Cauliflower seems to be getting a bit more love lately….as it should. This cruciferous vegetable boosts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular and digestive support. Roasting cauliflower turns the slightly bitter flavor to sweet and nutty. Healthy and yummy. NOW add sweet caramelized onions, a cheesy custard, a bit of dijon and you have a rich, decadent, stand-alone dinner entree, a perfect brunch item or an addition to a holiday buffet. A bit of a splurge I know but there are occasions people!
Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart
1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 pound)
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon truffle oil or a few pinches of truffle salt (optional, I did not add)
1 refrigerated pie crust or a homemade tart shell (recipe below)
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 large eggs
1 8- ounce container mascarpone cheese (see Note below for suggested substitutions)
1/2 cup whipping cream (I used whole milk)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese (you could sub: Swiss or Comté)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Toss cauliflower with 2 tablespoons olive oil in large bowl. Spread on rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast 15 minutes before turning florets over and roasting until brown and tender, another 15 minutes. Cool cauliflower then thinly slice and drizzle with truffle oil or sprinkle with truffle salt, if using. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
If using store-bought pie crust, press it onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Line crust with foil, fill with pie weights and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights then bake until crust is golden, about 5 additionally minutes. Press crust back with the back of a fork if bubbles form. Cool crust and maintain oven temperature.
Heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until onion is a deep golden brown, stirring occasionally. Approximately 30 minutes. Cool slightly.
Using a knife or brush spread the bottom and sides of crust with mustard. Spread onion over crust. Arrange cauliflower over the onion. Set the tart on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk eggs, mascarpone, cream (or milk) and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in Gruyère. Pour mixture over filling in tart pan, sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until tart is golden and center is set, about 40 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 15 minutes before serving.
Do ahead: Onions can be caramelized, dough can be par-baked (or rolled and pressed into pan, if homemade) and cauliflower can be roasted a day ahead. Store a par-baked crust at room temperature, a rolled-out unbaked crust and cauliflower and onion in the fridge. Keep cauliflower and onion should in separate containers. The whole tart can be made and baked a day in advance, reheated in a low oven before serving.
Adapted from Bon Appetit/ Smitten Kitchen
A Savory Tart Shell
Adapted from Le Pain Quotidien
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, diced
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and one-fourth teaspoon salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or two knives until it is in very tiny bits. Add one egg and mix with a fork until a dough forms. If this does not happen easily, toss it out onto a counter and knead it together. This dough is rather tough but with a little elbow grease, it does come together nicely. (I made this dough TWICE!! In a food processor the dough was too hard to handle and roll out…I recommend by hand with a fork).
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 9-inch pie plate or tart pan and press to remove any air bubbles. Crimp the edges, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Proceed with your filling, no par-baking required.
January. A fresh start. This healthy, protein packed salad from Provence, a staple in bistros all over France, may just be the entree to add to your weekday repertoire. In the traditional recipe according to Jacques Medecin, an authority on Provencal cuisine, “Never include boiled potato or any other boiled vegetable in your Nicoise. The only cooked ingredient should be eggs to be a authentic Nicoise”. My version goes like this. While high quality canned tuna is standard in French Bistros….I choose fresh (not a fan of the can!). Baked salmon is a smart alternative to tuna. I also include lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, anchovies, olives and eggs. This is really just a starting point….be creative with your veggies. This French vinaigrette ties these components together beautifully. You typically find this salad on summer menus, however, the ingredients can be found fresh year round (O.K. maybe not tomatoes) so you can enjoy this satisfying meal all seasons!!
Serves 8 (pictured, serves 2-3)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
Sea salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound small red new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
8 large eggs
1/2 pound haricots verts or French green beans, stems trimmed
2 pounds fresh sushi-quality tuna
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup nicoise olives
16 anchovy fillets
16 caper berries with stems or 2 tablespoons capers
1/2 bunch fresh chives, snipped in 1/2
Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a jar or processor. Shake the vinaigrette to emulsify or blend together in your processor. Set the dressing aside while preparing the salad.
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, add water to cover and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer the potatoes for approximately 20 minutes or until fork tender. Place a steamer basket or colander on top of simmering water. Put the green beans in the steamer and cover with a lid. Steam the beans for 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Rinse the beans under cold water to stop the cooking. Make hard-boiled eggs. Peel the shells off the hard-boiled eggs and cut them in 1/2 lengthwise.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Rub the tuna on all sides with olive oil, and a bit of the dressing; season salt and pepper. Lay the tuna in the hot pan and sear for approximately 1-2 minutes on each side; as the tuna cooks, the red meat will become whiter. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and slice.
To assemble the salad: combine the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, anchovies, capers, and chives in a large mixing bowl. Take the vinaigrette and give it another good shake to recombine. Drizzle the salad with dressing and toss gently to coat; season with salt and pepper. Toss carefully. Put the tossed salad down the center of a serving platter and lay the seared tuna attractively across the top and the eggs around the rim. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve.
Adapted from Tyler Florence
Grilled cheese is perfect anytime, but with our first measurable snowfall and a lazy Sunday, grilled cheese seems like a perfect meal. There are so many creative combinations for this ultimate comfort food. With grilled cheese being soup’s best friend …let’s combine the two with this French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich. The nutty, sweet Gruyere pairs perfectly with the caramelized onion. I promise this gooey, savory sandwich will be one of your favorites. Other clever ideas….brie, pear and prosciutto…bacon jam, tomato and cheddar…goat cheese and roasted red pepper.
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup sherry or beef stock
4 slices hearty Bread ( I used French)
2 tablespoons butter ( or 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon oil)
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring to coat. Turn heat down to medium low. Stir occasionally and continue sauteing for about 30 minutes, until the onions caramelize and turn golden brown. Add a pinch of salt, sherry or stock and let the liquid cook off. Remove from pan onions from the pan.
Spread outer slices of bread with softened butter. On two slices, divide and layer shredded Gruyere, top with caramelized onions, sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, then add the rest of the cheese. Top with the other slice of bread, press together.
Heat 2 butter (or a combination of butter and oil) in the same skillet over medium heat. Place sandwiches in the pan and toast, carefully flipping when golden brown and cheese begins to melt. Place in oven to fully melt the cheese.
It’s hard for me to believe this was the first time I’ve made spaghetti squash. I’m a lover of the butternut and I’m a lover of the acorn and now you can add spaghetti to the list. It’s one of the easiest vegetables to create a tasty, simple weeknight meal. This little recipe has a sweet Italian flavor with a bit of a kick. Add your favorite chicken, turkey or Italian sausage. For another healthy alternative, toss with shredded kale, olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese and a splash of lemon juice.
Spaghetti Squash and Italian Sausage
1 small spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 hot Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Split the squashes in half and scrape out seeds. Line an oven tray with aluminum foil. Season the spaghetti squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place flesh side down and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle.
When squash is cool enough to handle, using a large kitchen spoon scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin.
Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium heat. Grill the sausages, turning, until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the vegetables begin to brown, about 4 more minutes. Toss in the squash and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the sausages and sprinkle with parmesan.
Adapted from: Food Network
I’m in planning mode for Christmas Eve dinner. I love the idea of a rich chocolate dessert to put that exclamation point on the evening. On past Eve’s we’ve closed with Creme Brulee, Strawberry Panna Cotta, Chocolate Almond Torte, Chocolate Lava Cake…BUT this finale will take the cake. Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse. Very few ingredients, so make sure all steps are ready to go…. and smooth sailing. Watch carefully as the sugar melts and transforms itself into a smokey, amber caramel (it can go from slightly smokey to burnt quickly). Then just add butter, chocolate, let cool and finish the recipe. The result…a rich, fluffy, decadent dessert. The remainder of the menu is shaping up like this: shrimp cocktail, marinated, seared tuna bites as appetizers (thank you Diamond Seafood), Shredded Sprout and Kale Salad and Lobster Risotto. After reading this to Randy….he fainted!
Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4 (large) -6
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, preferably fleur de sel
Garnish: shaved chocolate or crumbled toffee.
Evenly place the sugar in a wide saucepan. Heat over medium heat. As it begins to liquefy at the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently drag the liquefied sugar toward the center. Careful here….sugar will caramelize quickly….don’t let it burn. Continue cooking, stirring gently, until the sugar is melted and caramelized. Continue cooking until the caramel is a deep amber color and has a slight burnt smell.
Remove the caramel from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter pieces, stirring until melted. Gradually whisk in the cream, stirring until caramel and creme are blended.
Once smooth, stir in the chocolate until it is melted and the mixture is smooth. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once the mixture is cooled, whisk in the egg yolks. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
Fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate, adding in the flaky salt. Fold in the remaining whipped egg whites until no white streaks remain. Divide the mousse into serving glasses or a decorative serving bowl, and chill for at least 8 hours. Serve chilled with a dollop of unsweetened whipped creme. The creme cuts the richness of the mousse beautifully.
Garnish with shaved chocolate or crumbled toffee (as shown).
I’m sooo over “the putting a fried egg” on everything!!! However, eggs on a breakfast pizza makes sense. The original recipe did not include spinach…I like the idea of adding this veggie with Gruyere. Although a successful dish, with my next attempt I will roll the dough free form on a baking sheet with edges slightly turned up to capture all the yummy toppings. The eggs seem to become somewhat free form as they settle into the crevices. Ohhhh…. and the doughy crust is the perfect way to sop up all the delicious cheese and egg.
Breakfast Pizza With Gruyere Cheese, Baked Eggs, Spinach, And Bacon
Crust (or store-bought)
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon chopped chives
¼ cup Crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1/4 cup spinach, (chopped, frozen) thaw and squeeze out all liquid
7 bacon slices, cooked until almost crisp (they will continue to cook in the oven)
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Mix the dough ingredients in a stand mixer until the a soft dough comes together in a ball. Press the dough into a tart pan, then bake the crust for 10 minutes. Or buy pre-made pizza dough. (and bake for 10 minutes)
Mix the Crème fraîche, Gruyère and spinach in a bowl and add a dash of salt and pepper.
Spread the cheese mixture in the bottom of the baked tart shell and then layer the bacon on top.
Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.
Bake the tart for 5-7 minutes to melt the cheese, then remove it and carefully crack the eggs on top.
Return it to the oven and bake it for another 7-10 minutes, until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still soft. If you prefer more well-done yolks, leave the tart in the oven for 2-3 minutes more. The whites will look slightly underdone due to the oils from the cheese, but they will be set.
Garnish with chives and serve immediately.
Adapted from: Against All Grain
This salad may become your go-to during the winter months. It is mine. Hearty, healthy greens in their natural state are the base for this delicious simple meal or side dish. The raw, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts add a nice crunch and stand up well to the bright, citrusy dressing. Add pomegranates to dress it up for the holidays. You can prepare this salad about 30 minutes prior to serving as the kale will soften a bit. DO NOT skip the sauteed almonds…they make the salad!!
Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 tablespoon oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.
Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.
Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds and pomegranates.
Adapted from Epicurious
It’s the season of tubers and root vegetables. Parsnips, with their unique rustic flavor, tend to be an under appreciated vegetable. Combining this ivory-colored root veggie with celery, onion, and garlic creates a savory, creamy and slightly sweet soup. Packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phyto-nutrients, this soup delivers added health benefits as we head into the chilly months ahead.
Creamy Parsnip Soup
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons thyme, minced
2 1/2 pounds of parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 chunks
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk (if needed)
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
Thyme sprigs, for garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a large pot, melt the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and celery cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add butter, garlic and parsnips cook for about 4 minutes. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the parsnips are tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the prosciutto and cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until crisp, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the prosciutto to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Or alternatively, place on a baking sheet and broil for approximately 2 minute until slightly crisp, about 2 minutes.
Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Transfer the soup to a saucepan. Stir in the cream (and milk, if needed), bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring a few times. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Serve. Garnish with the prosciutto and thyme leaves.
Adapted from: Food and Wine
A Hearty White Chicken Chili with a spicy kick! You can never have too many chili recipes in your arsenal when the temps start to drop. This comforting one-pot meal cooks in under an hour and you have a chili that tastes like it’s been cooking all day. The beauty of a chili, soup or stew is that you can improvise with whatever you have in your pantry. Corn, chopped green chilies and avocados are just a few extras you can add to make it your own.
White Chicken Chili
2 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans
1 tablespoon canola oil or olive oil
1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced
2 medium poblano peppers, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 limes, juiced, plus lime wedges, for serving
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Sour cream, for topping
Tortilla chips, coarsely crushed, for topping
Drain and rinse the canned white beans. In a medium bowl, mash half of the beans with a potato masher until chunky. Reserve.
Add the canola oil to a large Dutch oven and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the peppers, onions, and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt, and pepper, to taste. Add the cumin, coriander, and chili powder and continue to saute for 1 more minute to toast the spices. Stir in the chicken stock, and lime juice and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes.
After 20 minutes of simmering, taste for seasoning. (I added more cumin and chili powder for more of a kick). Stir in the shredded rotisserie chicken and cilantro and simmer until heated through, about 5 more minutes. Serve the chili in individual bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and lime wedges.
Adapted from The Neelys
Pumpkin Creme Brulee
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar, plus 4 teaspoons
8 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin or canned pumpkin
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
Arrange 8 (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups on a large metal baking pan.
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add 3/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the cups.
Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
Sprinkle each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Or preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, about 1 to 2 minutes.) DO NOT refrigerate after the tops have been caramelized. Garnish with spiced walnuts or whip creme.
Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse
This hearty vegetarian dish pairs rich, creamy polenta with a luscious topping of sautéed mushrooms. The Taleggio cheese adds a nutty layer of flavor that marries the earthiness of the mushrooms perfectly. For an entrée, we paired this with a crisp green salad, some crusty bread and an earthy red wine.
Bacon jam. Sweet, savory, slightly smokey and a bit crunchy. This condiment is a game changer for a multitude of dishes. While I’m posting this to accompany greens ( Thanksgiving??) think of the possibilities…..ultimate grilled cheese, hamburgers, over brie, rosemary focaccia crostini, stuffed dates, quesadillas and on and on and on. While there are lots of versions of this jam out there, I chose this recipe for ease of ingredients. Other additions include coffee, maple syrup, paprika, garlic, etc…This version is quick and easy.
Holly Hill Inn’s Bacon Jam
Makes about 2 cups
1 lb. good-quality bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1/8 cup bourbon
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar (original recipe called for 1 cup)
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
Cook bacon in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until a good amount of fat has rendered and bacon just starts to turn golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove bacon, set aside and leave only about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan. Add diced onion, turn the heat down to low, and cook together until onion is tender. Add the bacon, bourbon, vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard. Simmer until thick, (stirring occasionally) about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until liquid is evaporated. (You may choose to use a food processor at this point…pulse only a few times) Refrigerate until ready to use. Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or freeze.
Recipe from Ouita Michel
Wilted Greens with Bacon Jam
2 lbs. mixed young greens, such as mustard, chard, kale, and spinach
1/4 cup bacon jam
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional garnishes: red onion, sliced boiled egg
Submerge greens in standing water, remove any large stems, and rip leaves into bite-size pieces if necessary. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high, add bacon jam, and melt. Add greens, turn heat to high, and toss until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.
Recipe from Ouita Michel
Eat like a Mediterranean and live longer. OR…I would just like to live longer IN the Mediterranean!! After returning from a visit to Italy, it is clear that the Mediterranean diet is working on those people!! The diet is varied containing nuts, legumes, olives, olive oil, fish, whole grains and red wine. Most of the diet came out of necessity… eating what’s in your backyard and the unaffordability of meat and cheese. The classic diet includes eating olives…..every day!! The benefits of consuming olives or olive oil everyday are huge… they contain valuable amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflamatory nutrients benefiting high blood pressure, cancer and arthritis. Randy and I consumed our fair share of olives over the last few weeks…from olive oil, marinated olives… ohhh and perhaps a martini or two. So….. upon my re-entry I am starting out slowly and while we still have visions of olive and lemon groves on the mind, here is an easy and healthy appetizer to share. Add some fresh parmesan cheese drizzled with aged balsamic and of course a glass of red wine! Godere!!
Makes 1 pint jar
2 cups brine-cured olives
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon finely grated *orange zest
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
Drain olive and tumble into a bowl. Pour in warm water to cover. Soak 15 minutes. Drain. Pat dry.
Roll olives into a medium skillet along with oil, thyme, zest, garlic, and fennel seeds. Cook over medium-high heat until garlic turns fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in vinegar. Serve warm or cold.
* I originally made these with lemon zest….in keeping with the lemon groves we visited. While tasty, I found the orange zest flavor was a better marriage.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
While I’m gathering my thoughts, unpacking our bags and getting my camera repaired (ughhh) enjoy these pictures taken on a trip to beautiful Italy. A country known to the world as a “living art gallery” filled with art and architectural masterpieces, it’s a visit that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Ahh…but let’s talk Italian cuisine; it’s simple, vibrant, subtle, delicious and diverse. There are many regional variations of cooking throughout Italy, but in general grain foods such as pasta, bread, rice, and polenta are mixed in a variety of interesting ways with vegetables, beans, fish, poultry, nuts, cheeses and meat. AND the wine…..with vineyards dotting the Tuscan landscape, we enjoyed Chianti Classico, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and many other varietals in a region where Chianti was born. Days filled with touring and ending with a beautiful meal will be forever etched in our memories of traveling to this breathtaking country.
As I get back into the swing of cooking, I will be mindful of my experience and hope to share a few culinary highlights on Shreddedsprout.
Chicken Cacciatore is a classic Italian comfort food. Cooking this rustic style, hearty dish makes for a perfect meal transitioning into the cooler months. Cacciatore means hunter in Italian. Hunt for your favorite version of this dish by adding cremini mushrooms, olives, red wine or other tasty ingredients. I am following the Northern Italian style by adding red pepper, onion, capers and white wine. This recipe is a simple combinations of flavors and perfect for casual entertaining. Serve over polenta or your favorite pasta. Godetevi questo gustoso pasto!
4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
*This recipe freezes well…think of doubling and storing in freezer bags.
Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly. In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.
Transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with basil and serve.
Adapted from Giada Laurentiis
Make this soup! A simple, delicious, fresh corn soup with a touch of southwest flavors. The Avocado Salsa has the perfect mix of sweet and savory, with the poblano’s giving it a nice kick. This comfy soup has a creamy texture and is loaded with fiber, antioxidants and minerals. Thanks to Barb, my Canadian girlfriend for the inspiration!
The Original Plum Torte
1 teaspoon baking powder
Large pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tablespoon
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
12 smallish purple Italian purple plums, halved and pitted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Honey-Ginger Chicken with Lime
This is a light and refreshingly cool summer drink. The clean, crisp flavor of garden fresh cucumbers standout, while the mint adds a sweet herbal note and the lime adds just enough zing. Add Vodka or Gin and you’ve got yourself a summer stunner.
1 cup packed mint leaves, just the leaves, plus 6 sprigs for garnish
3 unwaxed cucumbers
½ cup sugar
2 cups vodka or gin, preferably Hendrick’s gin
Adapted from The Kitchn
Thinly slice 3 limes and place in a pitcher. Juice the rest of the limes and add juice to the pitcher. Add mint leaves. Add two sliced cucumbers, then sugar. Muddle ingredients. Add vodka or gin. Place in refrigerator to steep 30 minutes or longer. Peel remaining cucumber and cut lengthwise into 6 spears.
Fill 6 large glasses with ice. Strain mixture from pitcher into each glass. Top with a splash of sparkling water, garnish each glass with a sprig of mint and a cucumber spear, and serve.
A cobbler is simple. A homey, comfortable ending that typically shows up at a summer BBQ. In the height of your local farmer’s market harvest, peaches and our favorite berries are bountiful…perfect for this seasonal favorite. Top the sweet filling with a crisp, yet tender biscuit. As a perfect companion add a scoop of vanilla bourbon ice cream.
Peach Cobbler Adapted from Allrecipes
8 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges, 8-10 cups
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup boiling water
Cinnamon Sugar Topping
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine all the dry ingredients for the peach filling. Stir to combine and then pour into a large 9×13 baking dish. Bake the peach mixture in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
While the peaches are baking, combine the dry topping ingredients and whisk to combine. Blend in the chilled butter, using a pastry blender or your fingertips. Stir in the boiling water, just until combined.
Remove the peaches from the oven and drop the topping over them in spoonfuls. (I like to use my smallest cookie scoop to do this.) Sprinkle the cobbler topping with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whip cream.
FREEZER DIRECTIONS: The peach filling can be prepared and frozen in advance. Combine the peach filling ingredients in a large ziplock bag. When you are ready to bake the cobbler, thaw in the refrigerator and then pour into the baking dish and proceed with the recipe.
What’s your favorite way to eat freshly picked green beans? Mine is raw….. until now. Roasting these summer farm stand faves highlight their sweet flavor. The result turns these beans to a nutty, caramelized, crispy side dish.
The British Open and a festive breakfast was the start to a Funday Sunday. We decided to invite friends over early to watch golf, enjoy Huevos Rancheros, Bloodies…..and then play a round!!! (O.K. so this meal may have been more successful than my golf game!) Mexican fare is my go-to order for breakfast out, so I wanted to find an easy and delicious recipe for my fav…here it is!! The black bean and salsa components are as simple as adding a few ingredients into a processor. Lightly toast the corn tortillas, fry up your eggs and assemble. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, avocado and a few cilantro sprigs. A platter of watermelon lightly salted, a few lime wedges and cilantro, rounds out your meal.
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 corn tortillas
1 cup black beans (from a can, drained and rinsed)
2 clove garlic
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tablespoons sour cream or more
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a food processor, add the beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder, a teaspoon of oil (or until desired consistency), salt and pepper. Puree. Transfer to a small sauce pan and set it on a low heat. Heat through. Remove from heat.
Put a skillet over the burner and add a bit of oil. Lightly fry each tortilla until slightly browned and bubbly. (or toast over gas flame) Transfer to a plate.
Add a teaspoon of oil and a little butter to the skillet and crack your eggs. Continue to fry the eggs (medium-low heat) until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.
In the meantime, spread the bean mixture over each tortilla, followed by the salsa. Then top each with an egg. Dollop with a little more salsa, fresh cilantro sprigs, salt and pepper.
Make ahead: You can make the salsa and bean mixture the day before. Warm up before assembling.
Adapted from Bev Wiedner
Dinner in 15 minutes! I think you will find the combination of fresh greens and a hearty flavorful steak spiced with an earthy dressing, the perfect weeknight meal. While the steak is cooking, assemble your salad and whip up this easy topping. Make it your own by adding additional ingredients….radishes and cherry tomatoes.
Steak Salad Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 (10-12 ounce) boneless strip steaks, 1 inch thick, trimmed
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 romaine lettuce hearts, torn into bite size pieces
1 beet, trimmed, peeled and grated (while this is a quick option, I will cook and cube the beets next time I make this…..or pick up a few from the salad bar at my local market! They have more flavor.)
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Start your grill or heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add steaks to the skillet and cook until well browned and meat registers 120 to 125 degrees (medium- rare) 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, let rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk sour cream, lemon juice, chives and horseradish together in large bowl.
Slice steaks thin. Add lettuce, beet, and walnuts and dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide salad and slice of steak evenly among plates and serve.
In anticipation of a bumper crop of red peppers, I have been searching for recipes….and this is a beauty! The Mediterranean overtones of this simple relish pair perfectly with a hearty white fish or grilled chicken. Serve over a bed of nutrient packed micro-greens simply dressed with a touch of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Pepper Relish (Adapted from Fine Cooking)
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, rough chopped
2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon jalapeno, minced
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus a squeeze of lemon
Salt and pepper
Prepare grill. Place whole peppers on grill or cut the tops and bottoms from the peppers and cut the peppers into 3 or 4 flat pieces. Grill the pepper sides and bottoms skin side down until blistered and charred all over, 6 to 8 minutes. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with a plate. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel the charred skin and discard. Cut the peppers into bite-size pieces or wide strips.
Put the pepper pieces in a medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients, stirring well and seasoning to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
The relish keeps well in the refrigerator in a sealed container for at least a week. It’s best to make it a couple of hours ahead to allow the flavors to develop.
A very special side dish or a decadent entree…you choose. I’m pairing this rich, indulgent dish with BBQ’d Ribs. The tender chunks of fresh lobster are king here mixing well with the combination of Gruyere and cheddar cheese. Like I said, this is a very special meal for the MVP of our family…Dad! We can talk healthy food tomorrow!! Today I feel we should spoil the man with comfort food…after all he has kept us all comfortable for years.
Lobster Mac N Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 cups milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Boil water in a large pot and generously salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes or a casserole dish.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
Adapted from Food Network/Ina Garten