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Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes


Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, one of my favorite holidays of the year. Celebrating thanks with friends and family around the table with a feast of delicious food – it doesn’t get any better. There’s so much for me to be thankful for: my health, my job, my friends, family and loved ones, the roof over my head, the amazing places I have traveled to and the people and things I have experienced along the way, and the mere fact that every day is a new adventure, with hopefully many more to come.

Throughout the years I have collected my favorite recipes from my family, friends and cookbooks, as well as created a few of my own. I want to share these with you to enjoy just as I have, wishing all my readers a delicious holiday filled with thanks this year..Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Soup with Blue Cheese Toasts

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 tbsp minced shallots
3 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small baguette, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
blue cheese crumbles

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add onions, celery, carrots and shallots. Saute over moderate heat until onions become transparent. Add canned pumpkin, broth and water. Cook until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and puree the mixture in a blender or processor. Return the mixture to saucepan, add chopped thyme and cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reheat over low heat until hot, do not boil. Place baguette slices on baking sheet and broil until golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and sprinkle the toasts generously with blue cheese crumbles. Serve soup with toasts floating on top as garnish.

Serves 4-6.

Recipe from Whole Foods Market

Orange-Romaine Salad with Walnuts and Bacon

1 (10 oz.) package of chopped romaine lettuce
6 green onions, sliced
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
1/4 c. walnut pieces or pine nuts (lightly toasted)
4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Orange Vinaigrette
1/3 cup of red wine vinaigrette
1/3 cup of fresh orange juice (from 1 orange)
2 tsp sugar or sweetener

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts in an even layer onto a baking sheet and roast for approx. 15 mins until golden brown. Set aside.

Preheat a saute pan and cook bacon until crispy, crumble and set aside.

Slice green onions, and peel and section oranges.

To make orange vinaigrette, whisk together red wine vinaigrette, fresh orange juice and sugar.

Toss together all ingredients, top with crumbled bacon and toasted nuts.

Serves 8.

Butternut Squash Puree

3 butternut squash, halved and seeded
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 small shallots, halved
4 tablespoons orange blossom honey
6 sprigs fresh thyme
pinch of ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Heat oven to 400° F. Place the squash skin down onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Season with the salt and pepper and top with the shallots, honey, thyme, pinch of cinnamon and butter.

Cover the squash with foil. Roast until softened, 45 to 60 minutes. Uncover and set aside until cool enough to handle. Working in batches, scoop some of the softened squash and shallots from the peels into a mixing bowl.

Puree the squash mixture with a blender until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl. Repeat with the remaining squash and shallots. Serve warm.

Serves 6-8.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple and Food Network.

Broccoli Casserole

2 eggs, beaten
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tbsp butter, melted
3 cups of broccoli, chopped (frozen or fresh)
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine first 7 ingredients, fold in the broccoli. Transfer to a greased 1 1/2 quart baking dish.

In a medium saute pan, melt 2 tbsp butter and add bread crumbs, stir. Toast breadcrumbs until lightly golden, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the broccoli mixture and bake for 30-35 minutes until bubbly and heated through.

Serves 8.

Buttery Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

1 head garlic
drizzle of olive oil
3 lbs. baking potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold)
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
3 tbsp minced chives

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the head of garlic in half and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap garlic in foil and place in a small baking dish, bake for 30-45 minutes until the garlic cloves are soft. Set aside.

Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks and bring to boil in a large covered saucepan with salted water. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender and pierce easily with a knife. Drain the potatoes well and return to the pan, over medium-low heat to remove any excess moisture.

In a large mixing bowl, place potatoes, butter, squeezed roasted garlic bulbs and half of the milk. Whip with a hand blender on high speed, slowly adding in the rest of the milk until potatoes have a creamy consistency.

Mix in the chives, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with additional butter if desired.

Serves 6.

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma, Comfort Food

Creamed Corn with Bacon and Garlic

4 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped
2 cups of sweet corn (white and yellow mix)
1 tbsp bacon fat or olive oil
2 tsp garlic, chopped
2 tbsp sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
sweet paprika, for garnish
2 tbsp chives, chopped fine for garnish (can also substitute fresh mint)

Cook bacon in a pre-heated saute pan over medium-high heat, drain on paper towels and set aside.

Remove all but 2 tbsp of bacon fat in the pan, add the garlic and onions and saute until soft and golden.

Puree 1 cup of corn in a blender, and add with the additional corn kernels into the pan with the onions and garlic, saute for 3-4 minutes.

Chop the bacon into a medium dice and add to the corn, garlic and onions mixture.

Finish the mixture in the pan with heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste, stirring through.

Garnish with paprika and chopped chives or mint.

Serves 4-6.

Roasted Turkey and Gram’s Sausage Sage Stuffing

1 c. butter (2 sticks)
¾ c. finely minced onion
12 c. coarse bread, torn into cubes, crusts removed
1 ½ c. chopped celery (stalks and leaves)
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. poultry seasoning (to taste)
1/2 tbsp. dried sage or 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped fine
1 can chicken broth
¼ c. hot water
1 lb. pork sausage, browned and crumbled

12 lb turkey
butter, softened
salt
sage, dried
thyme, dried
basil, dried
fresh ground pepper (black and white)
cayenne pepper

In a large roasting pan, break up bread into coarse cubes (about 2-3 loaves). Heat a large heavy skillet over medium high heat and brown pork sausage until cooked thoroughly. Remove the sausage and pour over the large roasting pan full of bread crumbs.

Next melt 2 sticks of butter in the same skillet that the sausage was browned in and cook onions and celery until soft and lightly browned, stirring often. Add salt and pepper and stir again, remove from heat and pour on top of bread crumb and sausage in the roasting pan.

Add the chicken broth, poultry seasoning, sage, additional salt and pepper to taste and stir thoroughly throughout crumbs and stuffing mixture. Add ¼ c. hot water to stuffing until moist (not wet but not too dry of a texture). Cover roasting pan and let sit in the refrigerator over night.

The next day, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep the turkey by rubbing it all over with butter. Wrap ends of legs and wings with aluminum foil to prevent burning while cooking. Sprinkle salt, sage, thyme, basil, and three peppers (black, white and cayenne) onto turkey and rub in well.

Loosely stuff the turkey with stuffing just before roasting and add any leftover stuffing to a roasting pan. Cook the turkey breast down for the first 45 minutes, basting occasionally with poultry juices. Place leftover stuffing in a roasting pan, cover with foil and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, basting with turkey juices to keep it moist. Rotate turkey on its side and cook another 15 minutes, flipping sides and cooking on the other side for another 15 minutes. Flip the bird over breast up and keep basting and roasting the turkey about another 30 minutes until temperature reads 165 degrees in the breast and 170-175 in the deepest part of the thigh. Remove stuffing in roasting pan and turkey. Allow turkey to rest 20-25 minutes on a carving board before serving.

And don’t forget to make a homemade gravy with the crunchy brown bits and pan drippings (skim off the top layer of fat first), by adding a 1/3 cup of flour and 1-2 tbsp of butter, stirring for a few minutes to make a roux, then slowly add in the liquid (1-2 cups of chicken stock, some brandy or 1 cup white wine, 1 tbsp of cider vinegar and a little salt and pepper to taste) Whisk it into a creamy goodness right in the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes until it thickens, and serve hot on the side with the turkey and stuffing. Yum!

Makes 3 quarts of stuffing for a 12 lb turkey

Gram’s Stuffing recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook, 1962

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3-5 tbsp ice water

For the filling:
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 3 tbsp ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (you can add additional ice water if necessary, up to 2 tbsp, 1 at a time); do not overmix. Form dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12 inch round. Place in a 9 inch pie plate, fold overhang under, and crimp edges. Prick dough all over with a fork. Place a sheet of parchment paper over dough and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edge is light golden brown about 15 minutes; remove parchment and weights.

Make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk, nutmeg and cinnamon until combined. In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown and most of the foam has subsided, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately whisk into buttermilk mixture. Pour filling into pie shell and bake until set but still wobbly in center, 25-35 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack, 2 hours before serving. Can be refrigerated and wrapped in plastic for up to 3 days.

Serves 8.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, November 2011

Spiced Mulled Wine

1 bottle red wine (Merlot or Cabernet)
1 tsp almond extract
2 cinnamon sticks, plus a few extra for garnish
3 whole cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp honey

Pour wine into a double boiler (a metal mixing bowl over boiling water in a saucepan) and warm over medium heat.

Add the almond extract, spices and honey and stir until dissolved. Reduce heat, cover and simmer gently, stirring on occasion.

Serve in heat-resistant glasses or mugs, garnish with additional cinnamon sticks, if desired.

Serves 4-6.

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Classic Comfort Food:: Beef Stroganoff


Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff is a dish that always reminds me of home  – my mother used to make this on cold winter nights as a special treat for my Dad who is a total ‘meat and potatoes guy’ – obsessed with anything including beef, noodles and gravy. Maybe it’s a German-Polish thing?? She oftentimes prepared this dish with ground beef for a quick and easy dinner, but I’ve adapted her recipe a bit by adding a few extra ingredients to make my own savory version by adding some wine, fresh garlic and thyme. True comfort food for a chilly night, just like Mom made it.

Ingredients:

½ lb. fresh white mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp butter
¼ c. flour
2 lbs. round steak (sliced ¼”-1/2” thick)
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. red wine
1 1/2 c beef broth
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped fine
1 c. sour cream
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 package wide egg noodles

Preparation:

Boil a large pot of water and cook egg noodles per directions. While water is boiling, heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion, mushrooms and garlic until soft in 2 tbsp butter and remove from pan. Cut steak into strips 2 ½” long and ¾” wide. Melt remaining 2 tbsp butter in pan. Toss steak strips in flour and coat. Brown meat in butter until well browned on both sides. Add salt and pepper, worcestershire, wine and broth. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender (about 1 ¼ hours). Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme and parsley and cook approximately 7 mins, until sauce thickens. Add sour cream, stir until smooth and remove from heat. Serve over hot buttered egg noodles and garnish with more parsley. Enjoy with some crusty bread, a green salad and a glass of red wine.

To make a casserole: combine beef stroganoff mixture with cooked egg noodles with butter and spoon into a greased casserole dish. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees in the oven and then top casserole with crunchy fried onions and bake 10 mins more until onions are crunchy and golden brown.

Serves 6-8.

Other Beef Stroganoff Recipes you may enjoy:

Epicurious Beef Stroganoff

Rachel Ray’s Beef Stroganoff

Williams Sonoma Beef Stroganoff 

 

Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Salsa :: Frozen Watermelon Martinis


Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Grilling with fruit is an easy and staple technique in the summertime – it gives fresh flavor to ordinary BBQ dishes and is a healthy compliment to whatever it is your grilling. This recipe is a Spicy Hawaiian Chicken with a grilled pineapple salsa, made of cilantro, jalapeno pepper and onion (if you prefer a less spicy dish, substitute a red bell pepper instead of the jalapeno). The BBQ sauce is spicy and sweet made with honey, garlic, hot sauce, ketchup and soy sauce (you can also make less spicy by adding more ketchup and soy and honey in place of the hot sauces). The dish is rounded out by a side of rice, perfect mixed in with the pineapple jalapeno salsa and grilled chicken. Top it off with a refreshing frozen watermelon martini (recipe following) – made with vodka, fresh juicy watermelon, crushed ice and some cosmopolitan martini mix…now that’s a sweet and savory dinner perfect for a summer night. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/4 c pineapple juice
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Country Sweet sauce
1 tbsp Chili Garlic sauce
1/2 tbsp Cholula hot pepper sauce
Fresh ground pepper
4 chicken breasts (skinless, boneless, preferably organic for plumper breasts)
Cooking spray
4 pineapple slices for grilling, then diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and deveined, chopped (or 1/2 red bell pepper)
2 cups cooked rice (white or yellow)

Combine the first seven ingredients to make the BBQ marinade and add the chicken breasts, storing in a Ziplock bag or covered baking dish, reserving some of the marinade for basting. Let marinate for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.

Prepare the rice per package instructions, keep warm and fluff with a fork when ready to serve.

To prep the grilled pineapple salsa, chop the jalapeno pepper, red onion and cilantro into a medium dice, mix together and set aside to add grilled pineapple for serving.

Heat the grill or grill pan over medium-high heat (spray the grates or pan with cooking spray just before grilling). Grill chicken breasts about 6-7 minutes per side, basting with the reserved marinade a few times on each side until the chicken gets a nice golden brown color and grill marks. Grill the pineapple slices about 1 minute until browned and chop into medium diced pieces. Mix pineapple chunks into the jalapeno, onion and cilantro mixture, and serve with the chicken and rice. Garnish with some extra cilantro leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Frozen Watermelon Martini

Frozen Watermelon Martini

Frozen Watermelon Martini

2 c watermelon, seeded, cut into chunks
1 tray ice cubes
4 shots vodka (less or more to taste!)
4 shots cosmopolitan martini mix (I used Master of Mixes Martini Gold)

In a blender, puree the watermelon into a thick consistency then add ice cubes, crushing to a medium fine mix. Add vodka and cosmopolitan martini mix and blend until thoroughly mixed. Add more vodka or some Cointreau orange liqueur, if desired, and pour into martini glasses. Garnish with a wedge of fresh watermelon.

Serves 4.

Spring Fever! Spicing It up with Caribbean Flavors


Caribbean Chicken w/ Guava Pan Sauce, Caramelized Mangoes, Black Beans and Rice

Caribbean Chicken with Guava Pan Sauce, Caramelize Mangoes and Black Beans + Rice

Since I have lived in New York City, this has probably been the longest winter known to man. Last week on another cold, rainy, dismal day I started dreaming about going somewhere warm, sunny and tropical. Where the skies and sea are blue, the sand is white and the warm tropical air breezes through the palm trees and you don’t have a care in the world. I started having flashbacks of a trip I took to Jamaica a while back where the islanders greet you with a smile and the pace of life is laid back, jovial and carefree. One of the things I remember most about my experience there was the food and how delicious it was.

parsley and lemonsMango

They use unique fiery blends of spices (typically Jerk which is used as a rub on grilled meats) accompanied by an abundance of tropical fruits such as citrus, bananas, mangoes, pineapple, coconuts, papaya and guava. Caribbean cuisine is a unique blend of hot and cool, savory and sweet, and a refreshing burst of flavors reflecting the tropical climates in the region.

Lemon Infused Olive Oil with GarlicInstant Gourmet Caribbean Isles

I suddenly had a strong urge to cook a Caribbean dish and I wanted to try my new spice blend from Instant Gourmet, Caribbean Isles. This seasoning is a delicious blend of salt, bell peppers, garlic and onion, paprika and chili pepper and some additional spices – it really is great to use as a Jerk seasoning when you want some spicy flavor that isn’t too hot but very flavorful. You should try some of Instant Gourmet’s other spice blends too – they have an Original Spice blend, a Butter, Garlic and Parsley blend, a Spicy Coffee Steak blend, an Italian blend and a Southwestern Spice blend – all delicious and great on everything!

Guava Paste, Wine and Chicken BrothBlack Beans and Saffron Rice

I had some chicken breasts on hand and thought I would pair it with some black beans and saffron rice as a side dish. I also wanted to experiment with some of the tropical fruits from the region and incorporate them into my dish somehow so I decided to get a mango and some guava paste to caramelize and make a pan sauce for the chicken.

Lemon, Garlic, Parsley and Olive Oil MarinadeMarinating the Chicken

I also marinated the chicken in lemon juice, garlic and parsley and used an infused lemon oil in the saffron rice to give it a nice lemony zing to round out the tropical flavors in the dish.

Traditional Jerk Chicken is usually rubbed with a dry spice blend and then grilled over hot coals to give it a crunchy blackened flavor. I decided to saute the chicken instead and make a savory pan sauce with wine, broth and guava paste to drizzle over the chicken and the rice and caramelized the mangoes by sauteing them in brown butter, brown sugar and a dash of salt and pepper. The black beans were canned (Goya brand) but to make them more flavorful, I added some sautéed onions and garlic, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper and a dash of the Caribbean Isles seasoning.

The dish turned out to be a great combination of flavors – the sweetness of the caramelized mangoes complimented the spicy savory flavors of the chicken and black beans and the lemony saffron rice gave it a fresh kick of citrus to round out the dish. It was light, refreshing and a definite departure from this dreary, rainy, cold weather city I live in, a sliver of sunshine for my day – if even for a moment.

Caribbean Chicken with Guava Pan Sauce and Caramelized Mangoes with Black Beans and Saffron Rice

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice plus some lemon zest from 1 lemon
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Instant Gourmet Caribbean Isles Spice blend
4 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 tbsp guava paste
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick)
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
1 large mango, halved, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
Salt and pepper
1 package of Goya Saffron Rice (Spanish style)
1 can Goya black beans
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, chopped fine
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 green onions, sliced fine

Whisk first 4 ingredients together to make the marinade in a large bowl. Add chicken breasts to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and Caribbean Isles Spice blend on both sides. Cover chicken and chill for 2-3 hours, turning occasionally.

Saffron Rice

When chicken is done marinading, boil a pot of water and prepare the Saffron Rice per the box instructions and cook about 45 minutes until fluffy.

Browning Chicken

Remove chicken breasts from marinade, scraping excess off the chicken. Heat 1 tbsp canola oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken breasts to the skillet and cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Wine, Broth and Guava Paste Pan SauceBraising Chicken in Pan Liquids

Add wine and broth to the skillet along with the guava paste and stir until paste is dissolved and blended to the liquids. Bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts to the wine/broth/guava mixture in the skillet and cover, reducing heat to medium and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes (basting occasionally). Transfer chicken to a work surface and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a medium stovetop pan, saute some chopped onion and garlic in some canola oil until lightly browned. Add black beans (don’t drain), and 1 tbsp vinegar and a few shakes of the Instant Gourmet Caribbean Isles spice blend and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes and keep warm.

Caramelized Mangoes

Meanwhile, melt butter in another heavy medium size skillet over medium-high heat. Add mango slices, 1-2 tbsp brown sugar, a pinch of salt and stir. Saute until browned, about 2 minutes per side.

Caribbean Chicken, Black Beans and Rice

Boil juices in skillet until slightly thickened and sauce is reduced, about 3 minutes. Drizzle guava pan sauce over the chicken breasts and serve with caramelized mangoes, black beans and saffron rice. Garnish with chopped green onions, parsley and serve with a crisp white wine.

Serves 4.

Recipe inspired by a Bon Appetit recipe for Guava-Stuffed Chicken in Tastes of the World, 2008

Find out more about Instant Gourmet spices online at www.instantgourmetspices.com

Cooking with a Purpose: Tavern Direct + NCMEC


I recently was fortunate enough to meet Lou Bivona, Managing Partner of Tavern Direct and Founding Member of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children/NY and sample some of his gourmet products to cook with. Tavern Direct has a fantastic line of flavorful, gourmet marinades, dipping and finishing sauces, 14-16 year barrel-aged balsamic vinegars infused with real fruit and herb oils all made with premium, all-natural ingredients bottled under the Tavern on the Green name. The best of all about this wonderful cooking line is that a portion of all their proceeds goes to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a charity committed to help millions of children through the sales of their products.

Tavern on the Green Oils & Marinades

Their product lineup includes Oils, Herbs ‘n More featuring Garlic with Rosemary Oil, Chili Pepper with Garlic Oil and Pepper with Lemon Oil. Their Marinade, Dipping and Finishing Sauce line includes Central Park Signature, Wasabi Wonder, Smokin’ Chipolte and Asian Lemon. The Marinade trio features Chandelier Chardonnay and Fire Grilled Garlic, Old Vine Cabernet and Fire Grilled Garlic and Toscana Garlic Parmesan. The Balsamic Vinegar line is premium and gorgeously flavored with options such as Citrus on the Green (infused with Orange, tangerine and lime), Blackberry and Ginger, Autumn Fig with Vanilla, and Summer Strawberry. Last but not least, they have a robust 1870 Steak Sauce as well as a sesame Golden Ginger Teriyaki Sauce, perfect for marinating steak, chicken and fish for stir-fries and grilling.

Tavern on the Green Garlic & Rosemary Oil
With so many gorgeous sauces and marinades to choose from, I had a hard time choosing which one to cook with first. I chose the Garlic with Rosemary Oil in their Oil, Herbs n’ More collection to make a fantastic, delicious meal of Pan Seared Pork Chops, Roasted Zucchini with Garlic and Parmesan and Pecan Brown Basmati Rice with Garlic. With all the wonderful oils and vinegars and marinades in this line, I’ll be cooking up a storm and planning food and wine pairings and special recipes, and aim to share all my creations and cooking experiences with you throughout the year. Stay tuned for more!

For more great recipes and info about Tavern Direct, visit www.taverndirect.com.

To make a donation to NCMEC , visit their secure website.

**This was not a paid endorsement for Tavern Direct, NCMEC or Tavern on the Green.


Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Garlic and Rosemary

Serves 4
Total Prep time: 30 mins
Total Cook time: 1 hr
Cooking skill: Intermediate

Ingredients

4 large boneless pork chops (about 1 ½ inches thick)
Tavern Direct Garlic with Rosemary Oil
4 Garlic cloves, sliced
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh or dried rosemary leaves

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and adjust the oven rack to middle position.

Marinade pork chops in the Garlic with Rosemary Oil in a plastic freezer bag or baking dish and place in the refrigerator for up 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Once chops are done marinating, cut 2 slits about 2 inches apart into each chop, using a sharp knife. Insert sliced garlic cloves into slits and sprinkle entire surface of each chop with 1 tsp of salt. Place them in a roasting pan or baking sheet and let stand room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Sprinkle chops with freshly ground pepper and rosemary and transfer baking sheet or roasting pan to oven. Cook until meat thermometer inserted into the center of the chops registers 120-125 degrees (approximately 30-45 mins).

Heat 1 tablespoon of the Garlic with Rosemary oil in a 12 inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until smoking. Place 2 chops in skillet and sear until well browned and crusty, 1 ½-3 minutes, lifting once halfway to redistribute the fat underneath each chop. (reduce heat if browned bits in pan bottom start to burn). Using tongs, turn chops and cook until well browned on second side, another 2-3 minutes. Transfer chops to a plate and repeat with remaining 2 chops, adding extra tablespoon oil if pan is dry.

Reduce heat to medium. Use tongs to stand 2 pork chops on their sides. Holding chops together with tongs, return to skillet and sear sides of chops until browned and meat thermometer in center of chops registers 140-145 degrees, about 1 ½ minutes. Repeat with remaining 2 chops. Let chops rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes until ready to serve. Sprinkle with some extra Rosemary if desired to garnish.

Pair the Pan-seared chops with Roasted Zucchini with Garlic & Parmesan and Pecan Brown Basmati Rice (recipes follow) and a light, crisp Chardonnay to top off the meal. Delicious!

Roasted Zucchini with Garlic and Parmesan

Serves 4
Total Prep time: 15 mins
Total Cook time: 30-45 mins
Cooking skill: Easy

Ingredients

4 medium zucchini
Tavern Direct Garlic with Rosemary Oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh or dried rosemary leaves

Preparation

Wash zucchini and cut in half length wise, chopping off ends, and cut in half again. Arrange zucchini in a glass baking pan and drizzle the Garlic with Rosemary oil over the zucchini. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and top the zucchini with the shredded Parmesan cheese and fresh or dried rosemary. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 mins until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

Pecan Brown Basmati Rice with Garlic

Serves 4
Total Prep time: 15 mins
Total Cook time: 1 hour
Cooking skill: Easy

Ingredients

1 cup long-grain brown rice
1-2 tablespoons Tavern Direct Garlic with Rosemary Oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup green onion, sliced thin (for garnish, optional)
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preparation

Prepare brown rice in medium saucepan, following package instructions.

About 15 minutes before the rice is done, heat 1-2 tbsp of Garlic with Rosemary oil in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and begins to yellow, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and pecans; sauté over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the garlic is tender and pecans are browned slightly, about 5 minutes.

Remove rice from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Spoon brown rice into a bowl; spoon the onions, garlic and pecans on top and toss lightly to combine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with some chopped green onion if desired.

Garlic Rosemary Pan-Seared Pork Chops, Parmesan Zucchini + Pecan Brown Basmati RIce

In the Mood For Love


Recipes To Spice Up Your Valentine’s Day


“Aphrodisiac: any of various forms of stimulation thought to arouse sexual excitement. Aphrodisiacs may be classified in two principal groups: (1) psycho-physiological (visual, tactile, olfactory, aural) and (2) internal (stemming from food, alcoholic drinks, drugs, love potions, medical preparations)”.

We’ve all heard that there are certain foods that have aphrodisiac powers, but which ones and what effect do they have on romance? There are several foods that increase the passion and mood for love – Almonds, Arugula, Asparagus, Avocado, Bananas, Basil, Chilies, Chocolate, Coffee, Figs, Garlic, Ginger, Honey, Nutmeg, Oysters, Pinenuts,  Raspberries, Strawberries, Black Truffles, Vanilla and Wine, just to name a few. Truffles are said to stimulate and sensitize the skin for touch. Vanilla’s scent and flavor is know to increase lust. Chilies increase blood flow and sex drive. The chemicals in Chocolate trigger neurochemicals in the brain that increases passion. Red Wine relaxes and stimulates the senses. For Valentine’s Day, I rounded up a few recipes featuring some of these sexy foods, guaranteed to spice up your night and make it a LOVELY one to remember!

Herbed Baked Oysters recipe

Herbed Oysters

Ingredients:

24 fresh oysters
¾ cup of breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of olive oil
½ teaspoon of fresh thyme, chopped
½ teaspoon of fresh basil, chopped
¼ teaspoon of fresh marjoram, chopped
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Shuck the oysters and set aside on the half shell. Discard the remaining shells.

In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, garlic, mustard, olive oil, thyme, basil, marjoram, lemon zest and Parmesan.

 Top each oyster with about 1 teaspoon of the breadcrumb mixture and place the oysters on a baking sheet. Cook under high broiler (grill) for about 6 minutes or until the oysters are crispy and golden brown.

 Serve hot, with a wedge of lemon and your favorite hot pepper sauce on the side.

Recipe originated from www.oysterrecipes.org

Milk Soup with Truffles au Gratin

Truffle Gratin

Ingredients:

2 c. of chicken juice (gravy)
2 + 2/3 c. of milk cream
1 oz. of fresh truffle
2 lbs. of fresh bread
2/3 c. of truffle juice
1/3 c. of milk
2/3 c. of egg whites
Salt, white pepper

Preparation:

Reduce the chicken juice to half.

Add the milk, milk cream and reduce again.

Add the truffle juice and reduce until you get a nice texture.

Check on seasoning and put aside for the moment.

Preparation of the bread toasts:

Whisk 2/3 c. of cream, season with salt and pepper.

Cut the bread into 1 inch thick slices and cut them into circles (2 inch diameters)

Toast both sides of the bread pieces, dig one side on the piece and pour the wiped cream into it, bake it “au gratin”
under the broiler for a few minutes until lightly browned around the edges.

Recipe originated from French-Truffles.com

Chocolate Chicken

Chocolate Chicken

2 lbs. chicken, cut up — (2 to 2 1/2)
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil — (1 to 2)
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. anise seed
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 tsp. fresh pepper
2 tsp. hot crushed red peppers
1/8 tsp. cayenne (or to taste)
Sesame seeds

Brown chicken in a medium skillet in hot oil. Remove to a large (13x9x2) cake pan or baking dish. Pour oil from skillet and add the stock. Simmer 5 minutes. Mix cocoa with vegetable oil to form a paste. Add cloves, cinnamon, anise seed, and blend. Stir spice mixture into simmering stock and simmer 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. 
Pour mixture over the chicken parts. Cover and bake in preheated 350-degree oven until chicken is tender (around 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds over a bed of rice.

Spicy Scallops with Capellini

Scallop

Ingredients:

1 pound sea scallops, quartered if large
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 small dried chipotle chile with seeds, stemmed and chopped
Fine sea salt
1/2 pound capellini

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large shallow glass or ceramic baking dish, toss the scallops with the oil, wine, parsley, garlic and chipotle. Season with salt and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the oil is sizzling and the scallops are firm.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the capellini until just al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain; transfer to a serving bowl. Add the scallops and their juices, toss well and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Recipe originated from Food and Wine magazine.

Coffee and Chocolate Braised Short Ribs

Chocolate-Coffee Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients:

Olive oil or lard
5 lbs beef short ribs
Salt and Pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
2 cups strong coffee
1.5 cups chopped tomatoes, with juice (or one 28 oz can)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup unsweetened chocolate (70% or higher cacao)
Cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

Preparation:

Remove the short ribs from their package and rinse them under cold water. Pat them dry. Season the short ribs liberally with salt and pepper. (Use more salt than you think you will need). Heat the olive oil or lard in a cast iron pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat.

Place two or three of the short ribs in the pan. Be careful not to crowd the short ribs. You want to brown them, not steam them. Brown the short ribs well on all sides. You want the outsides of meat just a tad under burnt. Transfer the browned meat to a plate and continue to brown the rest of the meat. When done, remove all of the meat to the plate.

Reduce the heat to medium. If you used a cast iron pan for the browning, heat more oil in a large oven safe covered casserole dish. If you’re using a Dutch oven, just keep on cooking.

Add the onions and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent, approximately 5-10 minutes. Next mix in the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the brown sugar and spices and cook for 5 minutes longer. Add the coffee, chopped tomatoes, and tomato paste and bring the whole mixture to a boil.

Return the short ribs to the pot and cover. Braise in the oven for 1.5 to 2 hours. Mix in the chocolate until melted. Season with the cilantro and salt and pepper.

Cook’s Notes: I cooked my ribs in a Dutch oven, but the next time I make this dish I’ll brown the ribs in the cast iron pan and then transfer them to the Dutch oven. I also think the chocolate makes a big difference. I received some Scharffenberger chocolate as part of a gift bag and I used that. However I think the Theo chocolate had a smoother taste, even though they were the same percentage cacao.

We served the short ribs over pasta, but I think rice would have been a better side kick to this dish. The sauce is very flavorful with the coffee, chocolate, and the peppers, and rice would just soak it all up. Cook the rice and plate a bed of it. Then serve the short ribs and sauce over the top. Mashed potatoes would also work well here and the addition of some sort of starch would make this a complete meal.

Recipe originated from www.cooklocal.com, adapted from the Washington Local and Seasonal Cookbook

Arugula and Avocado Salad With Shaved Parmesan and Toasted Pine Nuts

Arugula Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

2 bunches arugula, washed and dried ( about 6 cups)
1 avocados, peeled and sliced
Shaved parmigiano-reggiano cheese, to taste

Lemon Dressing

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
4 -5 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Directions

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and garlic. Slowly whisk in olive oil until the mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

Place arugula in a serving bowl and add dressing to taste. Mix well. Top with avocado slices, drizzle a bit more dressing over them and season with a pinch of salt. Using a vegetable peeler, shave slivers of Parmesan over the top.

Top off the salad with some toasted pine nuts for an extra crunch (and spice to your Valentine’s Day!)

Serves 4.

Recipe originated from Food.com

Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster

Ingredients

¼ cup (½ stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup banana liqueur
4 bananas, cut in half 
lengthwise, then halved
¼ cup dark rum
4 scoops vanilla ice cream

Instructions

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet. Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan. When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.

Recipe originated from Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans.

Chocolate Honey Mousse

chocolate mousse

Ingredients

12 oz of dark crispy chocolate
5-6 dessert spoons of pure honey
3 cups of fresh cream

Instructions

Mix together dark chocolate (should be crushed into pieces), 5 dessert spoons honey and ¾ cup of fresh cream. The ingredients
should be mixed over luke warm water. This mixture will need to be stirred constantly, till the dark chocolate stats to melt and combines itself with the honey and cream.

Once all three ingredients have blended into one another, keep it aside for it to cool.

While the chocolate mixture is kept aside to cool, start whipping the remaining cream (2 ¼ cups) but not very firm.

Once the cream is whipped and the chocolate mixture is cool, gradually and slowly fold the cream into it. Blend this mixture well.

Take a special serving dish and carefully pour the whole mixture into it and keep it to set in the refrigerator.

The chocolate honey mousse can also be poured into separate individual bowls as it does make a lavish amount.

If the mousse is poured into one whole serving dish, the chocolate honey mouse might take about 3 to 4 hours for it to set well.

Chocolate honey mousse can be served with creamy vanilla ice cream. Garnish with crushed nuts as a topping.

White Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Raspberry Tart

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cup of walnuts, finely chopped
¾ cup of unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 ½ cup of flour
1 teaspoon of freshly-grated orange zest
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 cups of fresh raspberries
12 oz of white chocolate, chopped
½ cup of heavy cream, warmed
½ cup of whipped cream, to garnish

Directions:

In a bowl with an electric mixer, blend walnuts, ¾ of the butter, sugar, flour, orange zest and egg until thoroughly combined, and press into an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Freeze the shell for 15 minutes.

While the shell is freezing, preheat your oven to 375°F.

 Bake the shell in middle of your oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

 Allow the shell to cool on a rack.

Remove the side of pan and transfer the shell to a plate.

 Fill shell with 2 ½ cups of raspberries.

In a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt the white chocolate. 

Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the cream and the remaining butter, whisking until smooth.

 Spread the white chocolate mixture over the raspberries, smoothing top and chill, covered, for 3 hours or overnight.

Garnish the tart with whipped cream and remaining ½ cup of raspberries.

Serve at room temperature.

Recipe originated from www.raspberryrecipes.net

Read more about Aphrodisiac Foods and History

A Taste of Tuscany


Essentials of Tuscan Cooking

Eggplant Crostini

Tuscany (Toscana) is probably one of the most beautiful and scenic regions of Italy and the most popular places to visit, known for its rolling hills, mesmerizing sunsets,  rustic landscapes, vineyards, farmhouses and olive groves. I have not had the opportunity to visit there yet, but I love the cuisine and it’s first on my list when I plan my next trip to Italy.

Tuscan cuisine is a simple and earthy way of cooking, which centers around fresh and local ingredients from the farming region such as olive oil, greens, poultry, beans, beef, pork, rabbit, lamb, and sausages. Crostini is a famous antipasti which are little toasted breads spread with toppings such as olive tapenade or chicken liver pates. Bruschetta is also a popular antipasti made with rustic bread, fresh chopped tomatoes and garlic. Other popular dishes from the area are Panzanella (bread salad), Minestrone soup, Pasta Fagiole (cannelloni bean and pasta soup) and Ribollita.

Because of the ample farm land in Tuscany and areas surrounding Florence, there is a large production of olive oil, grapes and wine, and a variety of fruits and vegetables and herbs such as pears, oranges, thyme, rosemary, tomatoes, wild mushrooms, artichokes, asparagus, spinach and beans – all main ingredients in Tuscan cooking. Risotto is an earthy dish that incorporates many of these vegetables and cheeses from the region. Fennel is another ingredient often used in salad and sautéed with meat dishes. In Florence, Pecorino (a salty sheep’s milk cheese) tends to have herbs, garlic and red pepper added for flavor and is served shaved in salads or as cut in chunks served with grapes, olives and rustic breads like Foccacia bread with rosemary and olive oil.

Almond and Anise Biscotti and Oranges in Marsala Glaze are standard desserts and most of the wine that originates in the area is Chianti, aged in small oak barrels. Another popular white wine is Vernaccia, ranging from light and crisp to full-bodied, made in a small medieval town known as San Gimignano.

The following is a sampling of some of my favorite Tuscan recipes that use rustic and earthy ingredients originating from a Tuscan Cooking class I took at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. If you’re interested in learning more about Tuscan cooking there are a variety of cookbooks sold online, as well as cooking excursions in Tuscany with local chefs and other sites dedicated to Tuscan cooking.

Mushroom Risotto

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom stock:

½ lb. cremini mushrooms

½ lb. white button mushrooms

½ lb. shitake mushrooms

2 quarts chicken stock

½ c. dried porcini mushrooms

4 tbsp butter

3 oz. Madeira wine

Risotto:

3 tbsp butter

2 shallots, finely minced

4 c. Arborio rice

¾ c. white wine

Mushroom stock (reserved)

1 tbsp. minced chives

1 tbsp. Italian parsley

¼ c. grated Pecorino Romano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the mushroom stock, wash and trim the stems of the fresh mushrooms. Reserve the stems and slice the mushroom caps for use later in the recipe. (Make sure to dust of the dirt first and don’t soak the mushrooms).

Combine the chicken stock, stems, dried porcini mushrooms in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes over low heat. Strain through a cheesecloth and reserve the liquid for the risotto.

Heat a large sauté pan and add 4 tbsp of butter. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until browned. Deglaze the Madeira and reduce until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Reserve the mushrooms. (Try to let the Madeira glaze sit, don’t stir).

For the risotto, heat a wide pot or rondeau (flat bottom pot with tall sides) over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp butter. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir the mixture together to coat the rice with the shallots and butter.

Add the white wine, lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated. Begin adding the mushroom stock, a large ladleful at a time. Continue to add the mushroom stock (slowly and continuously), stirring constantly until the rice is just cooked through and all the stock has been absorbed, about 20 mins. The rice should be slightly al dente but have a creamy consistency and not dry.

Stir in the reserved mushrooms, the remaining tablespoon of butter, chives, and parsley. Top off the risotto with Pecorino Romano and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6.

Pork Chops with Fennel

Pork Chops with Olives and Fennel

¼ c. extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

4 pork rib chops, bone in

Salt and black pepper to taste

1 tbsp. fennel seeds, crushed

1 c. white wine

2 fennel bulbs, cored and quartered or cut into eighths

6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, roughly chopped

¼ c. Gaeta olives, pitted

1 spring rosemary

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with sides over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it turns brown, and remove the garlic. Season the pork chops with salt and add them to the pan. Cook until one side is brown, then turn and brown the other side. Remove and reserve until later. Add the fennel seeds to the pan and cook for 1 minute (toast them lightly to release oils and flavor, watch closely to not  burn them).

Remove the pan from the heat and deglaze with wine. Return the pan to the heat and cook until wine nearly evaporates. Add the fennel pieces, tomatoes, olives and rosemary.

Bring the liquid to a simmer and add the pork chops back to the pan. Cover the pan and cook for 15-20 minutes more or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F. Remove the chops and if liquid is too runny, reduce until it coats the back of a spoon.

This recipe can also be made with veal chops, and for extra flavor and to ensure juicy chops that won’t dry out, soak them in a brine overnight made out of 2 quarts of water, 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of salt and throw in some chopped up herbs such as rosemary or thyme.

Makes 4 servings.

Pollo alla Toscana

Pollo alla Toscana (Tuscan Chicken)

2 c. dried navy beans, soaked overnight (or canned beans drained and rinsed)

1/3 c. diced slab bacon or pancetta

2 (4 lb.) chickens, cut up into 8 pieces each

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Flour for dredging

1 medium yellow onion, diced small

2 celery ribs, diced small

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup white wine (dry and crisp, such as Chablis)

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tsp. freshly minced rosemary

3 canned plum tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp freshly minced parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Discard the liquid.

In a medium saucepan, over high heat, bring 5 cups of water to a boil and add the rinsed and soaked beans. Cook them until they are soft, but not mushy. Drain the beans, but reserve the cooking liquid.

Cook the bacon in a large rondeau or Dutch oven until just browned. Using a slotted spoon put the bacon on paper towels to drain, reserving the fat in the pan.

Pat the chicken pieces dry, season with salt and papper and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Heat the bacon fat over high heat and when it is hot, add the chicken and cook, in batches, turning the pieces once, until the skin becomes golden brown and crisp. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Add the onions, celery and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and deglaze with the wine. Return the pan to the heat and bring it to a boil, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and reduce by 1/3. Return the chicken and bacon to the pan, add the beans, thyme, rosemary, tomatoes, and 2 cups of the reserved beans cooking liquid (liquid should come half way up the pan, use more or less accordingly). Cover, place in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink and most of the liquid has absorbed. You may have to add more liquid if it looks dry.

Season with salt and papper to taste and garnish with parsley.

Makes 8 servings.

Cipolline Onions

Cipolline Agro Dolce (Caramelized Cipolline Onions)

2 lbs. Cippoline onions

6 tbsp sugar

½ c. red wine vinegar

8 sage leaves

¾ c. extra-virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.

Blanch the onions for 2 minutes in boiling water. With a slotted spoon, immediately remove the onions and place them in ice water. Remove when cool and peel removing the stem and first layer of skin.

In a large baking dish, mix the onions, sugar, vinegar, sage, olive oil, and salt making sure that onions are coated evenly (this makes a lot of liquid so you don’t need to use it all).

Bake in the oven for approx. 60 mins, or until the onions are well caramelized. Make sure to turn the onions and watch them while in the oven, taking care to not let them burn.

Makes 6 servings.

Pear and Fennel Salad

Pear and Fennel Salad

2 fennel bulbs, cored and cut into thin slices

8 cups mixed salad greens (red leaf, Bibb, Boston and Radiccio), washed and dried

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

3 red Bartlett or Bosc pears, cut in half, cored and thinly sliced

Combine the fennel with the salad greens. Refrigerate until ready to toss.

When ready to toss, add the salt and pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Toss gently and arrange on individual plates or a platter. Top with the pear slices and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Glazed Oranges and Biscotti

Oranges in Marsala Glaze

6 large navel oranges, peeled and pith removed (save one peel with pith removed)

¼ c. sugar

¾ c. sweet Marsala wine

½ c. Cointreau (orange liqueur)

12 mint leaves

In a small saucepan with boiling water, simmer the orange peel over high heat for 5 mins; drain and set aside. When cool, slice into julienne strips.

Separate each orange into sections, removing all membrane between sections. Place sectioned oranges in a large bowl, cover and chill.

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, Marsala, and Cointreau. Bring to a boil over medium heat until the mixture has reduced by half or until it becomes syrupy. Add orange peel strips to the syrup and chill. To serve, spoon orange sections into individual dessert dishes. Top with Marsala glaze. Garnish with mint leaves.

Tip: this dessert is delicious topped over Vanilla ice cream and served with Almond and Anise biscotti on the side.

Makes 6 servings.

Other Tuscan recipes you might enjoy:

Panzanella (Bread Salad)

Peach Bellini

Crostini with Roasted Eggplant

Olive Tapenade

Chicken Liver Pate

Pasta e Fagioli

Minestrone

Ribollita (Bread Soup)

Bistecca alla Florentine (Tuscan Steak)

Almond and Anise Biscotti

On The Menu: Roasted Chicken w/ Pinot Noir Sauce and Garlic-Smashed Potatoes


Roasted Chicken and Garlic-Smashed Potatoes

Whenever I have a day off, I normally feel the urge to sleep the entire day and forget the world. After thoroughly cleaning my apartment, getting my laundry together and paying bills all afternoon, I worked up a healthy appetite for a really nice dinner.

However, after exhausting all my energy on mundane activities all day, I wanted to make something simple but delicious, and a dish that I could make with all of the ingredients I had on hand: chicken, wine, garlic and potatoes. The thought of actually having to leave my apartment to go to the grocery store and expending more of my precious energy walking up four flights of stairs bewildered me.

I found this recipe for Roasted Chicken Breast with a Pinot Noir sauce and Garlic-Smashed Potatoes and decided to give it try because it sounded interesting (red wine sauce on chicken?) yet elegant. The chicken came out absolutely perfect; crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside – flavored with rosemary and thyme, and sauteed in a light, seasoned searing flour before roasting in the oven giving it a nice browned flavor. The wine sauce is the trickiest part – you want to cook down the wine in the sauce until it turns into a thick glaze and watch it so it doesn’t burn, stirring often.

The potatoes were pretty amazing – buttery, garlicky, crispy on top but creamy underneath the browned crust. The recipe suggests topping the potatoes with sour cream and chives when serving which I omitted, but instead I added a drizzle of Wegman’s basting oil, flavored with garlic, thyme and parsley on top before I put them in the broiler to give them a little extra flavor and crispier crunch.

I highly recommend a glass of red wine to accompany – and a side of crisp sauteed green beans or sugar snap peas for some extra veg. All in all, it turned out to be the perfect meal for a perfectly exhausting day off.

Roasted Breast of Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce

Ingredients

2  teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2  teaspoon salt, divided
1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2  teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
8  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4  cup all-purpose flour
1  tablespoon olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
3  tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2  cups pinot noir
1 1/2  cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3/4  teaspoon sugar
3  tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Sprinkle thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and rosemary evenly over chicken. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess flour. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 chicken breast halves to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute. Remove chicken from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining chicken. Arrange chicken in a single layer on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray; place rack in pan. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160°. Remove from oven. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.

3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots to saucepan; sauté 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until wine is reduced to 1 cup. Add broth; cook 16 minutes or until broth mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sugar. Gradually add butter, stirring constantly with a whisk until smooth. Serve sauce with chicken.

Serves 8.

Source: Cooking Light, Oct 2010

Garlic-Smashed Potatoes

Ingredients

1 3/4 pounds small unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes (about 16), scrubbed
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preparation

Generously butter glass pie dish. Cook potatoes and garlic in medium pot of boiling salted water until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; let stand 5 minutes. Discard garlic. Arrange potatoes close together in prepared dish. Using wooden spoon, smash potatoes coarsely until they split open. Drizzle with oil; dot with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler. Broil potatoes until crisp and golden, watching closely to avoid burning, 8 to 10 minutes. Top with dollops of sour cream; sprinkle with chives.

Serves 6.

Source: Bon Appetit, Feb 2009

An Everyday, Ordinary Dish – Reinvented


Real Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes

Ever since I got my new Williams-Sonoma cookbook, “Comfort Food”
for Christmas, I decided that Winter is a perfect time for staying in and
cooking and pursuing some comfort amidst the freezing and dismal
weather outside. So I’ve decided to cook my way through the book over
the next few months, and found a recipe for Sloppy Joes – a dish I haven’t
had in a looongg time. In fact, I think I’ve only tried them a handful of times
– growing up when my Mom wanted to make a quick dinner but something
tasty and savory.

Cookbook Recipe

Sloppy Joes have definitely gotten a bad rap, but this version ups the ante and
puts them back on the map for a delicious quick dish you can make on a weeknight
that’s hearty and spicy and filling. The ingredients are simple and basic: ground
beef, onions, peppers, celery and the sauce is a spicy-sweet tomato sauce that is
tangy and savory and just too good!

ingredients

Since I wasn’t able to find bottled chili sauce, I made my own by using 3 parts ketchup
to 1 part Chili-Garlic sauce and a small amount of Sriracha sauce (you can find both of
these in an Asian supermarket). I also added a dash of onion salt and a dash of Paula
Deen’s House seasoning
and a dash of Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning to add a little
extra spice and layer of flavors. If you want to make them a bit spicier, throw in a small
amount of chopped green chiles. Also, if you’re using frozen meat and defrosting it, make
sure it’s completely defrosted before cooking, or you’ll need to omit the ¼ c. of water that
the recipe calls for, otherwise the mixture will become too watery.

The key to making a delicious Sloppy Joe is to have a perfect balance between tangy, spicy
and sweet – not too tomatoey and not too sweet like a BBQ sauce. Also, the flavors meld
together as time goes on, so they actually taste better the next day! They are easy to make
and you’ll have leftovers for a few days if you’re eating for one or two. Serve these guys on
toasted buns with some melted cheese and a side of chips or fries. Mmmm-good!

Ingredients

Canola Oil, 1 tbsp
Yellow Onions, 1, diced
Celery, 1 stalk, diced
Green bell pepper, 1, finely diced
Ground Beef, 1.5 lbs
Tomato Sauce, 1 c
Ketchup-style chili sauce, ½ c.
Worcestershire Sauce, 1 tbsp
Dijon Mustard, 1 tbsp
Cider Vinegar, 1 tbsp
Light Brown Sugar, 1 tbsp firmly packed
Kosher Salt, 1 tsp
Fresh ground pepper, ¼ tsp
Sesame-seed or Whole Wheat Sandwich buns, 6 split, toasted

Preparation

onions and peppers

In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and bell
pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.

sauteed ingredients in sauce

Add the beef and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring and breaking up
the beef with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink, about 10 minutes.

cooking flavors together

Stir in ¼ c. water, the tomato sauce, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar,
sugar, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer,
stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes to blend the flavors.

Sloppy Joes

Toast the buns. Place the bottom halves of the buns, cut side up, on warmed individual plates
and top with the beef mixture, dividing it equally. Cover with the bun tops and serve right away.

Makes 6 sandwiches

A Few of My Favorite Thanksgiving Sides


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and there’s no guessing why – it’s all about visiting friends and family, being thankful for the wonderful things in our lives and of course, it’s all about the food.

Turkey and Dressing is the normal star of the table, but I love to experiment with the side dishes to mix it up and spice up the menu each year. Here’s a couple of recipes I plan on making this year (one tried and true, one a new experiment!)..would love to hear from all of you what your favorite side dishes are and what you’ll be making this year that’s a change from just mashed potatoes and green bean casserole!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Shallots 

brussel sprouts with bacon, shallots and balsamic vinegar

I made this recipe a couple Thanksgivings ago and it was an absolute delicious hit at the table! The crispy bacon, butter and shallots, mixed with the tangy vinegar gives the brussel sprouts an amazing trio of flavors and the roasting in the oven technique cooks down the balsamic into a glaze coating the crispy oven browned sprouts. The original recipe came from Williams Sonoma and I adapted it a bit by adding the balsamic vinegar and shallots. Thought you didn’t like brussel sprouts? Wait until you try this recipe.

Ingredients:

Water to steam
1 pound large Brussels sprouts
2 ounces thin-sliced pancetta or bacon (3-4 slices)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon premium unsalted butter
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste

Preparation:

Add water to a large pot with a steamer basket and bring to a boil.

Trim the sprouts: Slice off the base and remove the outer leaves. Cut each sprout in half lengthwise through the core, then make V-shaped cuts to remove the core. With your thumbs on the either side of the V, twist the sprout to open up the leaves a bit. Steam the sprouts for 5 minutes until bright green and tender.

Meanwhile, saute the sliced pancetta or bacon over medium heat in a small skillet until the edges have started to brown, breaking it into pieces with a spatula while it cooks. Remove the cooked bacon and reserve the bacon grease, adding a teaspoon of butter and then add the shallots and cook until soft and golden.

Drain the water from the steamer and plunge sprouts into ice water to stop the cooking, pat dry with paper towels and return the sprouts to the hot pan. Stir in with the pancetta and shallot mixture, including the fat in the skillet. Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until the vinegar reduces and the sprouts are brown on the bottom, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and hot sauce and toss well.

Put the entire mixture in to a casserole baking dish and cook in the oven for 20 mins on 350 degrees until golden brown. Take out of the oven, drizzle a little more olive oil on top, stir well and serve.

Serves 4-6.

Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash and Potato Gratin

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Potato Gratin

Everyone loves mashed potatoes and gravy for Thanksgiving but this year I decided I’m going to make a Gratin, but mix it up with not just potatoes and cheese, but adding some butternut squash and sweet potatoes to give it a kick and blended flavors of 3 of my favorite veggie sides. The decadent consistency of the garlic Gruyere cream sauce with this trio of veggies is a delicious twist on this classic French potato dish.

Ingredients:

1 garlic clove
½ tsp. sweet paprika
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of nutmeg
1/3 lb. baking potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/3 lb. butternut squash, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/3 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Thoroughly rub garlic on the bottom and sides of a shallow porcelain gratin dish or medium sized glass casserole dish. Coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle the nutmeg and paprika in the heavy cream and stir. Peel the potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash and cut them into thin slices.

Layer the potatoes in the dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese and then 1/3 of the cream. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a second layer using the squash, another 1/3 of the cheese and then 1/3 of the cream. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Add the top layer using the sweet potatoes, the last 1/3 of the cheese and final 1/3 of the cream. Top it off with a dash more salt and pepper. Sprinkle the entire top of the casserole with fresh Parmiagiano-Reggiano cheese and chopped parsley or thyme.

Bake uncovered, about an 50-60 minutes until the gratin is golden brown on top and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

Wild Rice with Pecans and Cranberries

Wild Rice with Pecans and Cranberries

My mom always used to make a wild rice casserole over the holidays with either chicken or shrimp which is delicious as a main course or buffet dinner, but for a Thanksgiving side, this recipe is a bit lighter with tart cranberries to complement the turkey and some pecans for extra crunch.

4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
3 large shallots minced
2 cups wild rice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 bay leaf
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup pecans toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

In a saucepan over medium low heat bring stock to a simmer. In a heavy 2-quart flameproof casserole over medium heat melt butter with the oil. Add shallots and sauté until translucent, add rice and stir until the grains are well coated about 3 minutes.

Stir in the simmering stock, dried cranberries, bay leaf, thyme, sea salt and white pepper. Bring to a simmer then stir and cover. Transfer casserole to the oven and bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven.

Remove and discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Stir in the pecans and parsley. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 4-6.

Cheddar and Herb Biscuits

cheddar biscuits

I found this recipe on Food Network website for The Neely’s Cheddar and Herb Biscuits. Having lived in the South in Atlanta for over a decade, I grew a love for fresh, homemade buttery biscuits. They definitely beat your standard prepackaged rolls from the grocery store and are delicious hot out of the oven with a little bit of real (yes, real!) butter. This version is made with buttermilk and fresh herbs (chives and parsley), mixed with tangy shredded cheddar and a dash of cayenne for a spicy kick. Yum!

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley leaves
3/4 cup grated sharp yellow Cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cayenne together using a whisk. Add the herbs, cheese and buttermilk. Stir together until dough forms. Once dough has formed, using an ice cream scooper, scoop out dough onto baking tray. With a brush, lightly butter tops. Bake for 15 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

Recipe from The Neely’s – Food Network

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