Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pumpkin Soup with Chipotle Chiles

Serves 6

I made this to try and get rid of some stuff in my pantry, hence the pumpkin. It was very good, but adding some fennel might also be nice, and some sage.  

  • two 15 ounce cans pure pumpkin
  • one 15 ounce can coconut milk
  • one large yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock--until you achieve the consistency you'd like. I wanted something rich.
  • 1 T butter
  • 1-2 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tsp sage (optional, did not use the first time)
  • Kosher salt
  • White pepper
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • maple syrup (optional, for garnishing)
  • 1 small (appx 7 oz) can chipotle chilis in adobo sauce. Minced
  • Sour cream, for garnish
Sweat the onions over medium high heat until translucent. Add pumpkin, coconut milk, marjoram and desired amount of stock to onions and simmer for around 15 minutes to let the flavors mix. Add kosher salt, white pepper (or black) and brown sugar to your taste. Remove from heat and puree in small batches. Garnish with 1 T sour cream/bowl, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Provide minced chipotle on the side as a condiment. We used about 1 tsp each. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Molten Chocolate Ganache Cake

Serves 12
Recipe from Ina Garten 

When I do this, I actually do it as cupcakes, or mini-cupcakes, since a large party is the only way I could ever be convinced to actually do something made with chocolate (just not a fan). 


  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 16 ounces Hershey's choclate syrup
  • 1 T pure vanilla Extract
  • 2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate, or chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp instant coffee/espresso granules
  • Flavoring (to taste... grand marnier, mint, almond, hazelnut, etc...)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour an 8" round cake pan, or cupcake tin. Line the bottom with parchment paper, or use muffin cups for cupcakes. 

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and the vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Don't overbeat of cake will be tough. 

Pout the batter into the pan and bake for 40 - 45 minutes (less for cupcakes) or until it is just set in the middle. Don't overbake! Let thoroughly cool in the pan. 

For the ganache, cook the heavy cream in a double boiler and add chocolate and coffee granules until melted and warm. Remove from heat and add flavor to taste. 

Glaze cooled cake with ganache, and serve with whipped cream or ice cream. 

Bruschetta with Arugula Pesto, Pepperonata, and Goat Cheese Truffles

Makes 20 Bruschette

I adapted this recipe from a salad in Mario Batali's Babbo cookbook. In that salad, the arugula is blanched and makes up the base of the salad, with the bread, truffles and pepperonata arranged over the top of the blanched greens. I love the flavors, but wanted to find a way to make it more "portable" so I could do it at a party. The blanched arugula wouldn't exactly work, so we did this arugula pesto. 


  •  15 ounces goat cheese (low water content, so you can form truffles)
  • Pimenton
  • Fennel seeds, ground to a dust
  • Poppy seeds
Roll goat cheese into 1" balls. Roll a third of them in each of the spices above. 

1 Recipe Arugula Pesto 
  • 5 ounce packaged washed/dried arugula
  • 1 ounce parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic--skin still on
  • Large 1/3 cup raw walnuts
  • 4-6 T EVOO
  • Large pinch of salt
Pan-roast the garlic. In a small saute pan,  heat 1 tbsp canola oil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high and add the garlic cloves. Turn each piece of garlic every few minutes till quite brown on all sides, but not black. This will roast the garlic in about 10 minutes.

Place walnuts in food processor and pulse until coarse-grained. Add everything else except EVOO and salt. Pulse till all is coarsely ground. Add 4 T oil, and pulse till you achieve correct pesto consistency --pretty fine, but no where near a paste. You should be able to distinguish individual grains. Add more EVOO if you need it, and salt to taste.

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced 3 mm thick
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced 3 mm thick
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 2 T sherry vinegar
Heat canola oil over high. Add peppers, and saute until beginning to brown. Add sherry vinegar, and cook around 30 seconds more. Season with salt and pepper. 

  • 1 baguette, sliced into 1/4" slices (not on the bias), and toasted on both sides
Split all truffles in half. Spread one hemisphere of one flavor of truffle onto the sliced baguette. Spread appx 1 tsp arugula pesto on top of that. Then spoon around 1 tablespoon of pepperonata onto arugula pesto. Place another hemisphere of a different flavor of truffle on top. The colors on this are great, especially for Christmas. 

Note: All except bread can be made ahead--up to several days. If you make the pesto ahead, just make sure to add a small amount of EVOO to the top to prevent it from oxidizing. 

Wild Mushroom and Gruyere Tart

Serves 12 for appetizer portions
Modified from a recipe on epicurious.com

  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk 
  • 2 tsp
  • 1/4 cup creme fraîche or sour cream

  • 2 T butter
  • 1.5 pounds fresh wild mushrooms (chanterelle, black trumpet, oyster, enoki, hedgehog, shiitake, maitake). Don't overdo the really strongly flavored ones like maitake. 
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced to a paste
  • truffle salt (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (appx 1.5 cups)
  • 1 Pillsbury "unroll" style pie crust
  • 6 ounces sliced gruyere
Preheat oven to 400 

Purée ricotta in a food processor until smooth. add 2 tsp EVOO and egg yolk, and pulse just to blend. Remove and gold in creme fraîche. 

Melt butter over medium heat, and add garlic. Saute until garlic is beginning to get golden. Add mushrooms and saute till soft, and significantly cooked down. Add truffle salt and thyme, and adjust until you have the desired flavor (usually takes many giant dashes of truffle salt). 

Place pie crust in a tart pan. Spread over ricotta-creme fraîche mixture on bottom. Place half of the mushrooms on top of dairy mixture in tart. Then arrange half of gruyere on top of mushrooms. Place the remaining mushrooms on top of that, and the remaining gruyere on top of that. 

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until gruyere is golden and bubbly, and crust is golden. 

Fig and Foie Gras Empanadas

Serves 20, makes 30

  • 1 pound Grade A or Grade B foie gras
  • 1 jar of fig jam
  • 6 Pillsbury "Unroll" style pie crusts
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Slice foie gras into appx 1.25" x 3" rectangles/half moons. Unroll pie crusts, and using an appx 4 - 4.5" cookie cutter, cut out 5-6 rounds from the dough. Spoon 1 tsp of jam onto each disk of dough, then place the half moon of foie in the center, and fold in half. Crimp the edges sealed. These can be made a day ahead, or several days ahead and frozen individually, using some kind of shrink wrap or Glad Press-n-seal. 

Pre-heat oven to 425
Place on parchment paper or a baking mat. Brush with an egg wash. Cook 12 minutes, until top is golden. Don't cook much longer, or all your foie gras will melt. 

Serve with Tokaji or Sauternes wine

Jamón Iberico, Parmesan and Mango Salad

Serves 8, easily
Modified from a Cooking Light cookbook

  • 3 mangoes, peeled, and chopped into appx 3/4" cubes
  • 6-8 ounces Jamón Iberico (or serrano), sliced to around a thick-construction-paper  thickness. Coarsely chopped. A note on the thickness: this is just the standard thickness that Jamón Iberico or Serrano is sliced to, but if you have to use prosciutto, you'll need to tell them to slice it thicker than they typically do prosciutto. 
  • 4 ounces shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • EVOO
  • good balsamic, or raspberry wine vinegar
Place first three ingredients into a mixing bowl. Layer these ingredients like a trifle, in several layers. Otherwise, this has a tendency to clump. Mix together, with just enough oil to make tossing easy, then adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, oil and vinegar (should require very little oil and vinegar). Do not make more than 2 hours in advance, as the mango can turn snotty. On the other hand, if you are unable to find ripe mangoes, make it several hours in advance, and use more vinegar than usual, add some sugar, and let it sit for a while. This will make the unripe mangoes taste ripe :) 

We usually serve this on spoons as an appetizer/salad. 

Goat Milk Panna Cotta with Balsamic Vinegar

Makes 12-15 small panna cotte, and 8 large ones
Adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali and posted on epicurious.com

  • 2 T water
  • 1.25 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 2 C whipping cream
  • 1.24 cups plain goat's milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • High quality balsamic vinegar. You may reduce if you choose. 
Pour the 2 tablespoons of water into a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the water. Let stand until softened, about 15 minutes. Whisk 1 cup cream and goat's milk in a bowl to blend. Prepare a large ice bath to put your mixing bowl in to chill the panna cotta. Heat remaining 1 cup cream and 1/2 cup sugar in a small sauce pan, over medium heat. Scrape vanilla grains out of bean into cream, and put husk into sauce pan as well. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Whisk in gelatin mixture. Then whisk in reserved milk-cream mixture, and warm, but not to boiling, whisking continuously. Pour all of mixture back into mixing bowl, and place mixing bowl in ice bath. Continue whisking in ice bath, until the panna cotta has returned to room, or slightly below room temperature. Divide among bowls or ramekins, cover and refrigerate over night. DO NOT SKIP ICE BATH. If you do, your panna cotta will separate. 

Serve with a teaspoonful of balsamic vinegar/ panna cotta. Instruct guests to tilt vinegar away from themselves, so they don't get too much at one time. 

Cranberry Orange Bread

Makes 1 large loaf cranberry bread
(this is pretty much the recipe off of the cranberry bag, but it's still great)

Preheat oven to 350

  • 2 C sifted flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 C sugar
Sift all of the above together, then add:
  • 2 C very coarsely chopped cranberries (not more than half, can even be whole)
  • 1/2 C chopped walnuts
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 C OJ
  • 2 T canola oil
Mix all together and pour into a buttered and floured pan--don't fill more than 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 50 - 55 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. 

Chestnut-Sherry Soup

Serves 6

  • 1 cup chopped fennel
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped into a in a large dice
  • 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 8 whole anise
  • Two 14-15 ounce jars peeled, cooked, whole chestnuts, crumbled 
  • 1/4 cup sherry, amontillado or cream (get good sherry, because the best pairing for this, it the sherry)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
Optional equipment: Cheesecloth and kitchen twine, to make a bag for spices (called a bouquet garni). Otherwise, just fish them out yourself (not a big deal)

Melt butter in a 4 qt sauce pan over low heat. Then stir in celery, fennel, and onion. Sweat the vegetables over low until softened (around 15 minutes). You may cut a piece of wax paper or parchment and place it buttered side down on top during this, but you'll be fine if you don't, too. Just make sure not to terribly over-cook it. 

Add the broth and the bouquet garni (the parsley, bay leaf, and anise, tied up in cheese cloth with a string, or not, if you elected not to). Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Add the chestnuts and sherry and simmer, covered for 3 minutes. Remove the spices that were to be in the bouquet garni. Save the spices, and use anise for garnish later. 

Purée the soup in small batches until smooth. Return to a sauce pan, then add the cream, pepper and salt to taste. Garnish with star anise, and optionally, creme fraiche or mascaprone.

Serve with sherry in cordial glasses.


Makes about 30 gougeres
From one of Jacques Pepin's cookbooks

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Dash cayenne pepper. 1 cup flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 c. grated Swiss cheese (Emmenthaler of Gruyère)
  • Coarse salt (fleur de sel or kosher) to sprinkle on top
Preheat the oven to 375

Bring the milk, butter, salt, and cayenne to a boil in a sauce pan (at least 4 quarts, with high walls). Remove from the heat, and add the flour in one stroke, and mix vigorously with a wooden spatula until the mixture forms into a ball. Put back over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute, to dry the mixture a bit. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor, let cool for 5 minutes, then process for about 5 seconds to cool further. Add the eggs and paprika to the processor bowl, and process for 10 - 15 seconds, until well mixed. Transfer the choux paste to a mixing bowl, and let it cool for 10 minutes. 

Line a cookie sheet with a reusable nonstick baking mat, or parchment paper. Reserve 1 tablesppon of the grated parmesan cheese and add the remainder of the parmesan and all the Swiss cheese to the choux paste. Stif just enough to incorporate. Using a tablespoon, scoop out a level tablespoon of the gougère dough, and push it off the spoon onto the cooking mat. Continue making individual gougères, spacing them about 2 inches apart on the sheet. (you should have about thirty.) Sprinkle a few grains of coarse salt and a litle of the reserved parmesan cheese on each gougère. Bake for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned and crisp. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature. 

French Hot Chocolate

The difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa is that hot chocolate is made by melting down actual chocolate, where hot cocoa is made by flavoring milk with cocoa powder, sugar, etc. This version of hot chocolate starts with a mousse, and as such is very rich indeed. 

  • 8 - 10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (use a bread knife to chop)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • 1-2 tsp flavoring (mint, orange [if you want it to taste like a tootsie roll], almond, hazelnut, even lemon)
  • 8 C scalded whole milk, keep warm
Melt chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, being sure to mix and pull away any melted chocolate from the walls of the bowl. You don't want to burn the chocolate. Once all the chocolate is melted, remove from heat, and add a small spoonful (a few tablespoons full) of the whipped cream into the chocolate and whisk vigorously to incorporate and slightly cool the chocolate. DO NOT ADD TOO MUCH WHIPPED CREAM--it will to turn to ganache, and you won't be able to get a mousse texture. Using a rubber spatula, immediately move all of the chocolate into the whipped cream and vigorously whip to incorporate and get a smooth, even distribution of chocolate into the whipped cream. Add flavoring to taste. Note, mint takes very little to absorb the flavor, while almond takes a ton before you can taste it at all. 

To serve, either pipe into cups, or serve in a bowl with a spoon, allowing people to add their own mousse. Then pour the hot milk over. You should have about one part milk to one part mousse. Provide spoons or stirrers to mix. 

Curried Lamb and Lentils

Serves 4 
Modified from "The Book of Yogurt" by Sonia Uvezian

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 arge garlic cloves, crushed to a puree
1.5 T currey powder
1.5 tsp salt
3/4 cup, + more yogurt
1.5 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 1" pieces
1.5 cups lentils
3 T  butter
3 c. boiling water, or chicken stock
1/2 English cucumber cut into 1/2" dice
Several T. minced fresh mint

In a large bowl, combine the onion, garlic, curry powder, salt and yogurt. Mix well, then add the lamb. Marinate up to 5-6 hours. We frequently only get in 1/2 an hour or an hour of marinade time, but it is not the end of the world.

Put lentils in sauce pan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then strain out water and set aside.

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add lamb mixture, being sure to scrape all of marinade out into pan. Continue to brown/cook, until cooked through, and onions are soft. Stir in lentils and boiling water or stock. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt, curry, and/or yogurt. Serve with cucumbers, a dollop of yogurt, and a liberal sprinkling of mint.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Deep Fried Turkey

We did a deep fried turkey this year. It wasn't a resounding success, so these are my notes to improve it. 

  • 14 pound turkey
  • Tony Chachere's injection marinade
  • Tony Chachere's seasoning
  • 3 gallons peanut oil
Liberally inject turkey with marinade. Liberally season all skin with Tony's. 

Heat oil to 400 degree. Turn off flame, and lower seasoned bird into oil. Turn propane back on and return to 350. You will have to watch the heat on the fryer to keep it at 350. It tends to want to go higher. 

We cooked ours for 45 minutes, and it was very dry. We let it sit for about 45 minutes. So our plan for next time, will be to cook for 35 minutes, let it sit again, and then hopefully have a properly cooked bird. 

Duck Confit Salad with Pears, Bleu Cheese, and Cranberry Fig Vinaigrette

This was probably the highlight of our Thanksgiving this year. The duck confit was absolutely fantastic, and worked so nicely with everything else. 

Serves 4 for salads, 2 for entrees

  • 2 Confit duck legs. We used this recipe, and it was wonderful. Be aware that you'll need to start the duck confit the day before, to get the seasoning right. 
  • 2 pears (anjou, bartlett, whatever), thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces greens. We used 1/2 cress and 1/2 arugula
  • 2 ounces crumbled bleu cheese (something rich like bleu d'Auvergne
  • Cranberry-Fig balsamic vinaigrette
    • 1 part cranberry sauce
    • 1 part fig balsamic vinegar
    • 1-2 parts good EVOO
    • 1/2 to 1 tsp Dijon mustard
    • kosher salt

Toss greens with vinaigrette. Fan out pears on salad. Arrange confit duck on top, and crumble bleu cheese.  

Cranberry-Orange Sauce

This is the thread that tied our whole Thanksgiving together this year. Usually it is a highlight (simple though it is), but this year it figured much more prominently. 

  • 1 standard package cranberries (I forget the weight--around 10 ounces or a pound)
  • 1 cup orange juice (the fresher, the better)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Salt, if you feel it needs it. 
Bring everything to a boil, let simmer for 10 minutes, then cool prior to serving. 

We serve this with the turkey, but usually make a 2x recipe because it makes such wonderful turkey sandwiches the following days. For turkey sandwiches, mayo on both pieces of bread, Dijon mustard on one, Cranberry sauce liberally applied to the other piece (which will be the bottom piece). Then warmed turkey, topped with arugula tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. The real secret is buttering the bread before you put the mayo on, and salting the turkey when you re-heat it. No need for cheese or anything else, it's perfect as described above (we've experimented a lot). 

Oysters in Cranberry Mignonette Sauce

We served these as the appetizer for Thanksgiving, and it was really wonderful. Basically used the cranberry sauce in as many things as we could. 

  • 1 dozen oysters (we used Island Creek, b/c that's what they had)
  • 1 T. minced shallots
  • 4 tsp champagne vinegar
  • a few T. Cranberry sauce, try to get as few berries as possible, and just the saucier part
  • Kosher salt, and pepper
Mix together mignonette ingredients, and let sit for a half an hour or so. Serve oysters on ice, with lemons.

Mashed Carrots with Orange and Mint

Borrowed from Fine Cooking magazing

Serves 6

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
  • kosher salt
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T cream
  • 2 T EVOO
  • 1.5 T chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • Tabasco to taste
Put carrots in pot and cover by at least an inch of water. Salt water and bring to a boil for around 25 minutes. Heat all other ingredients in a pan over low heat until butter is melted. Puree carrots, then mix in seasoning sauce. 

Notes, suggestions...
When we made this, we mashed instead of pureed. It would have been much better pureed. Also, it's got a nice middle eastern flavor profile. It could benefit from some lemon juice, add to taste afterwards. Also, I might consider toasting some cumin seeds in a T or two of butter, and mixing that in (that's what I do for my red lentil dal, and this kind of reminds me of that.

We served this for Thanksgiving, and while it was very good, it was overwhelmed by the other flavors. It's more subtle, but still very good. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms, Truffles and Duck Egg

Serves 6

  • 1.5 recipe gnocchi
  • 2.5 pounds mixed wild mushrooms. Create a mixture that balances strong flavors such as maitake and black trumpet, mid-range flavors like shitake or chantererlles, and mild flavors like oyster, enoki, or button mushrooms. Usually I use about 1 pound medium-flavored, 1 pound mild, and .5 strongly-flavored
  • 4 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 4 oz. butter
  • 1/3 cup cognac
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup light cream
  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • shaved white truffles (optional) 
  • 6 duck eggs
  • whole milk or more cream for consistency.
  • Parmiggiano reggiano, grated.
Saute garlic in butter. Add all mushrooms and cook down. Deglaze pan with cognac, moving mushrooms around to thoroughly deglaze. Add parsley, thyme creme fraiche, light cream or mascarpone, and stir until you have a mixture that is reasonably liquid so that it will coat the gnocchi (or pasta). Add more cream, or some milk to get this consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

Poach duck eggs in salted water for 2 minutes. Remove from water with a strainer and keep to side, allowing water to drain.  

Place gnocchi in shallow pasta bowls. If mushrooms have cooled, re-heat to bubbling, and add more milk if necessary. Evenly divide mushrooms amongst bowls. Shave truffles onto mushrooms (do immediately, as the truffles need the heat to activate their flavor--otherwise, they will taste like paper. I personally think the truffles are a waste of money that I won't do again, but worth trying once). Place one duck egg on each. Grate a little parmesan cheese over the top. Serve immediately, with cracked pepper and salt available for guests to season as they see fit. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Braised Monkfish with Fennel, Olives, & Blistered Tomtoes, Over Pesto Pasta

Serves 4 

  • 1.3 - 1.5 pounds monkfish, or cod (we used monkfish, but next time I'll use cod)
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved along poles
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
  • 1 large bulb fennel, sliced into a 3 mm slice
  • 1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • 8 ounces diced canned tomatoes (San Marzano preferred)
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup pesto
Pre-heat broiler. Broil grape tomatoes till blistered. Remove and set aside. Salt and white pepper fish. In a non-stick pan, on high, bring 1 T EVOO to smoking. Add fish to pan, and cook on each side until browned. Remove from pan. Deglaze with wine. Add canned tomatoes and garlic.  Add fennel and kalamata olives, and simmer till fennel softens. Turn off heat. Slice fish into 1" slices and place fish and tomatoes on top of vegetable mixture. Cover and allow fish to steam while you finish the pasta. Cook pasta until al dente, toss with pesto sauce. Remove cover from fish and vegetables, and check fish. Cook a touch longer if not fully cooked (it most likely will be). Ladle fish and veggies over pesto covered pasta. 

Steak Tartare

Serves 4 for first courses, or 6-8 for appetizers

  • 8 ounces beef tenderloin cut into 1/8" cubes
  • 1/4 cup extremely finely minced red onions
  • 1 egg yolk (chicken)
  • 1 T EVOO (good, spicy, preferably)
  • 1 T minced capers 
  • 1.5 T Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp Tabasco, or other hot sauce
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 brioche rolls, cut into 3/8" slices
  • marinated red onions
    • 1/4 - 1/2 red onion, sliced into 1.3 mm slices
    • red wine vinegar, to cover
    • 1 T sugar
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
      • Allow all to sit for at least an hour. strain and serve
A few notes on the cutting.

Make sure you are using an extremely sharp knife. Take the time to sharpen it before cutting. You don't want to tear the meat. Cutting this reminded me of cutting sushi. For that reason, use the knife with the longest blade that you have. I used my sushi knife the last time, and it worked great. 

Minced onions
To ensure that you have an extremely fine mince, I would recommend slicing the onions first on the mandolin at the 1.3 mm setting. Then mince the sliced onions. This ensures that the onions are miniscule, and you don't get any chunks of onion to screw up the flavor.

Mix everything together, and serve with sliced, toasted bread and marinated red onions. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lamb Chili

Serves 8

  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound ground veal (or pork)
  • .125 pounds (two thick strips) bacon, cut into a 1/4" dice
  • 2 T butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced into a paste
  • 2 to 2.5 medium onions
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • One 28-ounce can tomato sauce
  • One 28 ounce can whole or diced tomatoes in sauce (preferably San Marzano)
  • Two 14 ounce cans canellini beans
  • One 14 ounce can Great Northern Beans
  • One 14 ounce can black beans (note, you can change the ratios and beans you use)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder (or regular if you don't have it. 
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel (grind in a coffee grinder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter and saute garlic in a 6 quart pot. Add veal and lamb and brown. Remove from pot. Add bacon to pot, and cook till beginning to brown. Add onion and peppers and saute till onions are translucent. Add back in meat and all juices. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. If using whole tomatoes mash with a tomato masher to have coarsely chopped tomatoes. Add beans and all spices. Simmer for an hour. Add water or broth as needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Curried Carrot-Coconut Soup

Serves 6

This can be served cold or hot

  • 2 pounds carrots cut into 1/2" rounds
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 head fennel, diced
  • 3" piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Two 14.5 ounce cans coconut milk
  • 2.5 T curry powder
  • basil, mint, or thai basil to garnish
 Boil carrots in stock for around 20 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, saute onion, fennel, ginger, and garlic in butter. Add more butter if necessary. Add all sauteed items, and all carrots to a blender. Add as much of the stock as necessary to get it to blend. This was all of it for me. Return blended mixture to pan, and add coconut milk and curry powder. Bring to desired heat, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with basil, thai basil or mint. Would be nice with some brioche croutons, too. 

Chanterelle Mushroom, Corn and Lobster Risotto

Serves 6 for entrees, 8 for primi piatti

  • 1 pound chanterelle mushrooms
  • 12 ounces of cooked lobster meat (I got this at a local fish store, they cook the lobster the day of, so it's very fresh, and much easier than shelling it yourself)
  • 4 ears of fresh corn
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups arborio rice
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine (chardonnay-ish)
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche (optional)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half or light cream (optional)
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock (I can't remember, but I think it's on the higher side)
  • 2 bunches of basil, minced
Boil corn for five minutes or so in salted water.  Allow to cool, then cut off all of the kernels with a knife. Make sure that you break them up so the kernels are separate from each other.

Slice chanterelles. Melt 2T butter over medium-high heat until foam subsides. Add garlic and saute till beginning to acquire color. Add mushrooms and saute till soft (3-5 minutes). Turn off heat and de-glaze pan with a small amount of wine or cognac.

Chop it up into bite-size, but not too-small pieces.

You can do the things above while the risotto is cooking or before. Risotto takes a while, and you have to be paying some attention, but not a ton, so I think doing the tasks above while the risotto is cooking makes the most sense.

Melt 2 T of butter over medium-high heat. Add shallots after foam has subsided. Cook until soft. Add rice, and allow to toast, such that the rice gets more opaque, but acquires no color. Once this occurs, add a cup or two of chicken stock, and reduce the heat to low. Allow this water to absorb, stirring occasionally. Add a cup of wine. Continue to add a cup of wine at a time as the other wine absorbs. Once you run out of wine, begin adding the chicken stock. Add chicken stock till you have almost achieved an al dente texture (a little chewy still--not mushy). Add creme fraiche and light cream to get a creamier risotto if you prefer. Add in the corn, lobster, and mushrooms. Mix all in. Add water, stock or cream if the risotto is clumping. You want the risotto to be "liquid" enough that you would need to serve it in a bowl, but you don't want a soup.

Salt and pepper according to taste.  

Garnish heavily with basil.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Brined, Grilled Pork with Apple-Bourbon Chutney

Serves 2 


  • 1 pork tenderloin, appx 1.5 pounds
  • Brining salts and spices--you can just do salt, or add a bunch of spices, or buy something. You can't really screw this up--just add a ton of salt to water. 
  • 1 green apple, peeled or not. I did it unpeeled. cut it into 1/4" pieces, more or less
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/3 cup cranberries
  • Lemon juice, to taste (may be from concentrate)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
Cooking the pork

Dissolve brining solution in boiling water, according to your recipe--around 1 cup salt and spices to 2 cups water. Add ice cubes--around 1 cup for proportions above. Bring to room temperature or less. Place pork in a Ziploc bag, then add brining solution. Brine for 2-6 hours. We did it for 2 and it was fine. 

Pre-heat the grill to medium, or around 350 - 400 (that's the range on ours). Grill the pork until approaching medium rare, around 12 minutes total, then let sit for approximately ten minutes. This is why you want to do it on the rare side, so you can let it sit, and cook a little more, and let the juices permeate.

A note on temperature of pork: It used to be, long, long ago, that you were supposed to cook pork to medium, to kill trichinosis spores. However, the U.S. pork supply has been free from trichinosis for decades. When I was in culinary school, they pointed this out and urged us to cook pork medium-rare, just as we would beef or lamb--even so, I was always a little chary of doing this at home. Recently though, even the U.S. F.D.A., one of the most cautious groups around, declared that pork could indeed be served medium-rare without any health risk. And boy, it is SOOOO much better. 

Cooking the chutney

Melt the butter. Dissolve the brown sugar into the butter. Cook the apples till they get a little soft. Add bourbon and cranberries to sauce. Continue to cook and add salt and lemon juice till it achieves desired thickness and flavor. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuna Tartare on Pringles

Serves 4-8, depending on how heavily you are relying on this dish for an appetizer

  • 1 pound tuna, cut into a 1/4" dice
  • 1/2 minced jalapeño or equal volume of serrano pepper
  • 1T grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 juice of one lemon, plus more to taste
  • 2 T cilantro, minced
  • 1 T wasabi powder
  • whitepepper, to taste
Mix all together before serving. Mound onto Pringles immediately before serving. The Pringles just add a touch of salt at the beginning. If you add enough fish to each, they are not a dominant flavor, rather a subtle addition. Also, you will only end up with 4-5 per person, so they don't do much at all to increase calories or fat. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Serves 6 

3 very large breasts of chicken, poached in lightly salted boiling water for 13 minutes, cut into a 1/2" dice
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup pistachios (salted or unsalted)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 T curry powder
2 T honey
1/4 cup tarragon, minced
1 green apple (unpeeled), cut into a 1/2" x 1/2" by 1/4" dice
Juice of 1.5 lemons
Salt to taste

Croissants, halved, and toasted (insides only)

Mix all salad ingredients together. Place chicken salad on croissants, top with arugula. Halve sandwiches, as these are VERY messy.

A few possible modifications:
- substitute 1/2 Greek yogurt for the mayo. 
- Serve as a roll-up; much less messy. 

Pasta with Pistachio Pesto, Scallops and Grapefruit

Serves 4 

1.5 pounds fresh scallops (never use frozen, too much water)
1 pound pasta, preferably fresh
1 large red grapefruit, cut int 1/2" dice

For Pesto
1/2 cup unsalted pistachios + 1 T ground into a coarse powder
1/2 cup tightly packed mint leaves
.75 ounces (small package) tarragon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup EVOO
1 tsp mint jelly, mint sauce, or other mint-flavored thing (optional)
Salt & black pepper to taste

Pulse 1/2 cup of pistachios in food processor till coarsely chopped. Add in garlic and pulse just to disperse. Add in mint and tarragon and pulse till evenly chopped, but not too fine. Add in EVOO, pulsing to do so. Taste, and add salt and pepper. Add mint sauce, mint jelly, or honey to adjust flavor (some times it's tough to get the mint flavor to come through. 

For Fish 
Remove muscle (small piece of meat on side--if you don't see it, it's already fallen off). Pat each scallop dry with a paper towel, and place on a plate with a paper towel to continue to allow to dry. You want as little water as possible, as it will make them caramelize better. 

Bring a 12" or 14" cast iron or non-stick skillet to smoking--no oil. Add scallops and sear on each side for 1 minute. 

Cook pasta and immediately toss with pesto. Taste, then add salt, it will need a lot of salt. Don't add all the salt it needs, as some guests may have lower salt tolerances. Be sure to put salt on the table, so people can add more to their taste. I stress this, because this dish is totally tasteless if you don't add salt to bring out the flavor of the pesto. 

Evenly divide scallops and grapefruit among the four pasta bowls. Sprinkle all with ground pistachios. If you want cheese on this, use pecorino romano, not paremsan. 

Caprese on Parmesan Crisps

Serves 4 

6 ounces buffalo mozzarella in water
2 stalks basil leaves, leaves julienned
Very high quality balsamic vinegar, or lower quality balsmic that has been reduced
3 roma, heirloom (very small, or just one) or other high-flavor tomatos
Parmesan crisps

Make parmesan crisps as directed. Break into bite size  pieces and plate on whatever plate you plan to serve them on. Cut up all cheese into sizes that will fit onto crisps. Cut tomatoes into slices, then into smaller pieces so that tomato fits on top of cheese. Assemble as quickly as possible, to prevent parmesan crisps from losing crispiness. Sprinkle over basil, and drizzle balsamic vinegar (liberally, and such that it comes into contact with mozzarella cheese. Serve immediately.

White Gazpacho: Chilled Almond, Garlic and Grape Soup

Serves 4
Modified from Epicurious.com

8 T sliced almonds
5 slices of rustic bread, toasted
3 slices of brioche bread (for croutons, or just use two of your other bread)
1 pound seedless green grapes
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2.5 cups water, + 1/2 cup
3/4 cup EVOO
3 T white wine vinegar
2 T fresh tarragon minced
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
butter for making croutons

Soak 5 slices of toasted bread in 2.5 cups water. Toast almonds in s skillet till golden brown. Place 6 T of almonds into a food processor along with garlic and soaked bread. Puree till even in consistency. Add 9-10 ounces of grapes to the food processor, then puree until uniform. Transfer to a bowl then whisk in first vinegar, then olive olive oil, then 1/2 cup of cold water. Press entire mixture through a sieve, in batches. Use a rubber spatula to press it through. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. Chill for at least an hour.

Make croutons by slicing bread into 1/2" cubes. Place a T or so f butter in a pan and melt. Add croutons after foam has subsided. Turn down heat to low or medium low. Turn croutons till all six sides have been toasted to golden brown. Add butter if necessary. Sprinkle with kosher salt, then remove from heat. You can use any bread for this, but brioche is far superior, as in this soup, it  works perfectly.

Divide soup among 4 bowls, than add garnishes--croutons, halved grapes and tarragon. You might also add a parmesan crisp, it would be a nice addition.

Parmesan Crisps

Makes one 12" crisp, which can be broken up into smaller pieces

4 ounces parmiggiano reggiano

Grate cheese onto a medium-high heat non-stick, or cast iron 12" skillet. Let all cheese melt, and turn down heat to medium or medium low to prevent burning. Allow all cheese to melt, then begin to harden. Once hardening is occuring, using two spatulas, remove cheese from skillet to plate, and allow to cool. Carefully break into smaller pieces. Nice as a garnish for soup, or as a base for canapes, or bruschetta-type things. Parmesan treated this way gets a tad of bitterness to it, which is nicely offset by something sweet on top, or to dip it in.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese, Sweet Red Pepper and Goat Cheese

Serves 4

This has been a revelation for me this summer. I wanted to do a salad, and was sick of the normal accoutrements of our salads, so used what we had--goat cheese and red pepper. The sweetness of the red pepper, coupled with the goat cheese, made this wonderfully rich, without actually being so, and of course the crunch of the red pepper was a lovely addition. Maybe the easiest good salad I make. 

  • One 10-ounce package arugula
  • One sweet red pepper sliced (with a mandolin) into 2 mm slices
  • 4 ounces high water-content goat cheese, e.g. Petit Billy or Chavri
  • Balsamic vinaigrette. Roughly 2 parts vinegar to 1 part oil, plus salt and 1/2 tsp dijon mustard to emulsify. The better your vinegar and oil, the less oil you need. If you have lower quality vinegar or oil, you'll need more oil to make it taste good. 
Toss arugula and red peppers with vinaigrette. Crumble goat cheese on top. 

Red Cabbage Cole Slaw

Serves 6 

These measurements are approximations. You'll have to do this to taste. I will try to update it if I ever figure out the actual measurements, but I typically do this totally by "feel"/ taste. 

  • 1 red cabbage, sliced into a 3 mm slice. Use a mandolin for this if you have one. If you don't have one (or if you have any other kind), buy the Kyocera mandolin. It's $15, and is the best piece of kitchen equipment I've purchased in the last 3 years. 
  • 10 ounce package carrot sticks, or shredded carrots. Or grate your own. 
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (may be less, so start with 3/4 of a cup)
  • 4 ounces honey
  • Juice of two lemons
  • Salt to taste
Mix it all together! Great with Bourbon-Orange-Hoisin Glazed Ribs or Bourbon Braised Pork Ribs. We also did this along with potato salad at our crawfish boil. 

Bourbon-Orange-Hoisin Glazed Baby Back Ribs

Serves 2

For the first time in our lives, we have a grill, something we are very excited about. But also a tad daunted by. We decided that we would break it in by cooking ribs. However, I was pretty scared, because several friends had talked about slow cooking for 6-8  hours, then smoking for another 4--and with mixed results! I am not that kind of cook (too lazy), so I looked for a recipe that sounded good, and didn't take that much effort. The recipe below is (very slightly) modified from epicurious.com and was wonderful, and very easy. And when I say wonderful, I mean that the ribs were extremely flavorful, and fell off the bone. Can't wait to try smoking, the rotisserie, and grilling fish!! 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

  • 5 T honey
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon hot chili paste, e.g Sriracha
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • One 2 1/4- to 2 1/2-pound racks baby back pork ribs
  • 1 cup orange juice, preferably fresh

Whisk first 10 ingredients in small bowl.

Place long sheet of aluminum foil on each of 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Sprinkle rib racks on all sides with salt and pepper. Place 1 rib rack on each foil sheet. Fold up sides of each foil sheet around rib rack to form boat-like shape. Pour 1/2 cup orange juice over each rib rack. Place another piece of foil on top. Crimp edges and fold up foil to seal packets. Bake until ribs are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove ribs from foil packets. This can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate.

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Cut each rib rack in half. Place on grill and spoon as much glaze as you can on--do the same on the other side when you turn it. Grill until browned, brushing frequently with glaze and turning often, about 10 minutes. Cut racks between bones into ribs.

We served this with traditional cole slaw--red cabbage, carrots, mayo, honey, lemon juice. 

White Wine and Butter Poached Chicken Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Serves 4 

This is another recipe where the "Test Kitchen" part of this blog should be remembered. The dish was fantastic, I just haven't gotten the exact cooking temperature/time down yet. As a result, our chicken was a tad touch--but with the wine sauce and the goat cheese, it was still fantastic. I would eat my shoes with this preparation, so I will just work to refine the recipe so that the chicken is really tender, as it should be. 

  • 4 large breasts of chicken. We used boneless, skinless, but it would actually be best if it were bone-in, with skin. It would keep more moisture in. 
  • 4 T butter
  • 6 ounces good white wine. Use something you'll drink, and then drink the remainder with your dinner. 
  • 2 ounces dry, chalky goat cheese (the logs are what you're looking for here)
  • 1 to 1.5 T. minced tarragon
  • Kosher salt 
  • White pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350. I did 425, but I think a lower temperature would be better. Maybe even something in the 200s. Pat chicken breasts dry, then salt and pepper them. Place them in the smallest oven-safe dish that will accommodate them. You want to not have to use too much wine and butter, but you need them to be submerged, so a larger dish will mean you need to increase the amount of wine and butter. Add wine and butter in slices to the dish. The wine should cover or nearly cover the dish. I cooked mine for 20 minutes to 425, then let it sit for at least 10 minutes. It was over-cooked at that point. It may be that it was fine right when I took it out, but my inclination would be to cook it for around 10 to 15 minutes at that temp, or 20 at a lower temp. Just take it out and either use a thermometer, or a knife to visually inspect the inside of the meat. Once meat is done, still pink, but not translucent, remove from oven. Cut  a slide along the horizontal mid-line and stuff in as much goat cheese as you possibly can. Place chicken breasts in shallow, soup-type bowls. whisk tarragon into the butter wine sauce, and add salt and white pepper to taste. Evenly distribute poaching liquid amongst bowls. 

I served this with poached artichokes and lemon-mayonnaise, and an arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette, goat cheese and sliced sweet red pepper

Orange-Sesame Salmon Crudo

Serves 4

I copied this from Island Creek Oyster Bar. It's still a work in progress, but even imperfect, it was quite nice. In the past I've tried to make ceviche out of salmon, and found that it's kind of disgusting, with the acidity bringing out an incredible fishiness in the fish. When I had this crudo at ICOB, I was very impressed, because the lower acidity of the orange didn't have that result. When I tried this, I only marinated it for around 20 minutes, which was not enough. Below is what I did with suggested amendments called out. I'll update this when I try it next. 

  • 8 ounce filet of salmon, never frozen, sliced into 1/6" slices, then cue into 1" x 1" square. You're basically looking for sushi grade--and the best proxy you can get for that, is to ensure it's not been frozen, and ask when the fish was filleted (if the answer is longer than "yesterday," you shouldn't do this dish). 
  • Juice of two oranges. I might try blood oranges, or even fresh squeezed orange juice, as both are more acidic
  • 2-4 T sesame oil (I have no idea how much I used)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt to taste
The way I did it
Whisk sesame oil in with orange to create a vinaigrette (incidentally, this would be a fantastic salad dressing). Marinate fish in vinaigrette for 20 minutes. Add salt and crushed red pepper to taste. Serve. 

The way I will do it next time
The issue with the way I did last time is that the fish did not take much of the flavor of orange, so you only got that taste to the extent that you were eating it with the vinaigrette. It was still nice, but not as good as ICOB's, and not as good as it could be. Below is what I will try next time. 

Remove a few large pieces of orange rinds, then over a sink, place a lighter underneath them to "smoke" the rind, and get out the essential oils. Place fish with orange juice, orange rind, and around 1 tsp kosher salt. Marinate for 1 hour. Drain fish. Make a new vinaigrette from juice of one orange, salt, and sesame oil. Add pepper flakes to taste. Don't let your guests, because they won't, and these are crucial. Just don't over do it--for your guests--go wild for yourself :) 

Sauteed Eggplant with Tomato, Hot Pepper and Feta

Serves 2.5 (2 adults, 1 kid)

This year our roof deck garden is doing beautifully. The first things to mature have been the eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes--hence the birth of this dish. It really did turn out really wonderfully, with just the right amount of latent heat from the serranos. 

  • 1 T. butter (or EVOO, but I think the butter is helpful)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced to a paste (w/salt)
  • 4 small eggplants (our are around the size of plums), or around 1.5 cups eggplant, cut into a 1/2" dice
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into a 1/4" dice
  • 1/4 of a serrano pepper, minced to a 1 mm or less mince
  • 2 ounces feta crumbled
  • kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

Melt butter in a 8 - 10" pan, then saute garlic, adding eggplant just before garlic starts to brown. Saute eggplant on medium-low until it becomes tender, adding peppers after a few minutes. Reduce heat to low, add tomatoes and cook till they have given up their liquid and become very soft. Taste, and add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat, crumble feta over the top, and cover. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then serve immediately.

Serve with Lamb Burgers, or with Turkish Chicken Skewers.

Grappa Peaches with Basil and Creme Fraiche

Serves 6

Borrowed from Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin). An amazing, simple, summer dessert. 

  • 6 peaches, cut into wedges, with the fat part of the wedge about 1/3"
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 T grappa
  • 10 large basil leaves julienned to a 1 mm width, max
  • Creme fraiche
Marinate peaches and basil with sugar and grappa for up to 4 hours, and as little as 20 minutes (more time doesn't really add that much, so it's whatever's most convenient for you). Serve with 1 T. dollop of creme fraiche each. 


Serves 6

  • one 6 ounce container 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 an English cucumber, peeled and grated. If you have time, allow them to sit in a strainer and let some of the liquid drain off. 
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3 T minced mint
  • 1 T minced dill
  • kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper taste

Mix together and if you can, let set to allow the flavors to inter-mingle. If you do this, don't add salt until ready to serve.

Serve on Lamb Burgers, or with Turkish Chicken Skewers. or even on fish.

Monday, May 13, 2013

St. Barth Canapes

As I mentioned elsewhere, what we eat while on vacation at St. Barth has very much to do with what we find at the deli counter, and other specialties that happen to be available. Below are some of the canapes. Some arose out of charcuterie arrangements, others as appetizers to take the edge off while I cooked. None were pre-planned, just came out of what was available and what was leftover. 

Canape of Roasted Garlic, Blue cheese, Pear, Cote de Boeuf and Petite Salade

  • Sliced rustic bread, lightly toasted, cut into ~ 2" x 3" pieces
  • Roasted garlic: remove several large cloves of garlic, and saute in olive oil on each side until brown (takes around 15 minutes total)
  • Some sort of rich blue cheese, not sure what we had, but it was nice and creamy. Make sure it's room temperature, or you won't be able to spread it. 
  • Thinly sliced pear
  • Sliced cold Cote de Boeuf (from last night's dinner, otherwise, skip the beef)
  •  Arugula lightly tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette
Toast the bread on both sides. For each canape: Spread the roasted garlic on the toast. Liberally spread on the bleu cheese--at least an 1/8" thick. Fan out the pear slices. Add the sliced beef to the top, then garnish with arugula salad (just a touch). Note, this would work well without any one ingredient. It would suffer if you were missing two. 

Canape of Goat Cheese, Yellow Tomatoes & Spicy Chorizo
  • Sliced bread (baguette, rustic, whatever)
  • Sliced spicy, dried chorizo
  • High water content goat cheese (like Petit Billy)
  • Yellow tomato, sliced
On the bread, place the sliced chorizo, then the goat cheese, then the sliced yellow tomato. Experiment with the ordering, it makes a big difference. Might be nice with julienned basil. 

Canape of Fois Gras Mousse and Fig Jam

Bread, foie gras mousse and fig jam. Wonderful, easy (if you happen to have a grocery store that carries foie gras mousse... ) 

St. Barth Desserts

These were some of the sweet things we devised to cap off the evenings on vacation. Super simple, and very Nutella heavy :) 

Passion Fruit Glace with Nutella Sauce
  • Passion fruit glace (or sorbet)
  • Nutella
Spoon Nutella over the top. I think this would have been better by tempering the Nutella with some whole milk and then cooling, but I was feeling lazy (I was on vacation, right?). At any rate, it was quite nice. 

Mango with Coconut Yogurt (Serves 2)
  • 1 mango, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • Two 4 ounce containers coconut yogurt
Place mango and spoon yogurt over the top. Simple, wonderful, and pretty much guilt free (not that I'm prone to guilt). 

Fromage d'Affinois and Nutella (my personal favorite)
  • Fromage d'Affinois
  • Nutella
Fromage d'Affinois and shaved milk chocolate used to be one of my favorite cheese pairings. This has definitely usurped its place. The fact that the Nutella is almost the same viscosity and texture mean that these two can mix perfectly. It's a wonderful way to offset the austerity of the mango and coconut dessert, or to absorb an awful lot of alcohol at the end of the night, if you find yourself in that position (not that I ever would). 

Raspberry-Orange Duck Breast with Orange, Basil and Golden Raisin Couscous

When we go to St. Barth's is about the only time I cook duck breast--it happens to be there in the store just begging to be paired with something sweet. This is what I came up with this year. I saved the excess sauce and made duck breast sandwiches the next day, adding a lot of mustard to the sauce and adding mache and slices of leyden (a yummy cheese with cumin). 

Serves 4


For duck and sauce
  • 3 large (1/2 pound-ish) duck breasts
  • 3 T butter
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • Orange juice
  • 1 package fresh raspberries
  • Raspberry jam
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For couscous
  • 1 cup couscous cooked according to package directions. (this includes some butter).
  • Add in 1/2 cup golden raisins to couscous before adding water
  • Zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 3-4 T julienned basil leaves
  • Salt to taste


Pat each breast dry, then liberally salt and pepper. In a 10" - 12" frying pan, melt butter over medium high heat. Try to choose a pan that is just big enough to fit the duck in. Otherwise, you will burn the butter, and the sauce won't work as well. Add duck and begin browning, fat side down. Brown each side on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, remove ducks to a plate, and cover with tin foil to allow them to continue cooking. 

Turn heat back on. Deglaze pan by adding a liberal splash of orange juice (around 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup). Add in 2 T raspberry jam, and 1/2 of the orange's zest. And reduce till it coats a spoon nicely. Adjust seasonings to taste, salt, pepper, orange, raspberry. Add fresh raspberries and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat. 

Cook according to package directions, but add in raisins and orange zest before adding water. Fluff, then mix in basil. Salt according to taste, then add some of the duck sauce to enhance the flavor. 


Slice up the duck, it should be medium rare now. Place the couscous on the plate, and fan out sliced duck over the top. Spoon over sauce, but keep a good amount in reserve, so that it doesn't all go to the couscous. Keep sauce on the table with spoons for people to help themselves to more.

Arugula Salad with Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese, Salsa Verde, Poached Egg and Shaved Asparagus

This was one of the many lovely lunches we made while in St. Barth for vacation. The restaurants are prohibitively expensive, but the grocery store (non-plural) is stocked full of great cheeses, cured meats, (wine) and other wonderful French ingredients that inspire one to cook (along with the coercion of the restaurant pricing). 

Serves 2 


  • One 8-10 ounce package washed and dried arugula (or other spicy green)
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon, chopped into ~3/4" squares
  • 2-3 ounces high water content goat cheese, e.g. "Petit Billy" or something else where it is still packaged in water. Obviously, you can do one with lower water content if not available
  • 1/4 cup Salsa Verde. See the link, but basically this is just capers minced with parsley, olive oil, salt, a little mustard and any other fresh herbs you have. In St. Barth's we only had basil, so I mixed that in, and the anise-y sub-tone of the basil was a fine substitute for tarragon that I would usually use. I didn't use any garlic or shallots on vacation, and it was fine--maybe better. 
  • Lemon vinaigrette
    • juice of one lemon
    • 1/2 tsp mustard
    • 1 T sugar (or more as needed) or honey if you have it
    • 1/2 tsp salt (more as needed)
    • EVOO  in appx 3-times the volume of the lemon juice
      • Mix top 4 ingredients and then slowly whisk in EVOO until emulsified
  •  2 eggs, poached
    • place in heavily salted (and vinegar-ed, if you have it) water. Cook for two minutes, the remove with a slotted spoon. try to shake off as much water as possible without breaking the yolk
  • (optional) 1/2 bunch asparagus, blanched for 2 minutes, tips removed (and saved) and stalks shaved with a potato peeler


Toss arugula and optional asaparagus (both tips and ribbons) with lemon vinaigrette. Add in half of Salsa Verde and toss "roughly," i.e. so it's not evenly distributed. Arranges salmon, crumbled goat cheese and poached egg on top. Serve with Rose wine :) 

Farro (or Barley) a la Greque

This is basically a Greek salad with some complex carbohydrates added. Very hearty and wonderful for summer. 


  • 1 cup barley (3 cups water). Or farro (I couldn't find it), or wheatberry. 
  • 5 ounces Kalamata olives (in water), diced
  • 1/2 english cucumber, cut into a 1/4" dice
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into a 1/4" dice
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta (Mt. Vikos, preferably) packed in wter
  • Pesto Sauce to taste (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring barley and water to a boil, then simmer covered for 1 hour. Test and see if chewy. Don't wait till soft. Place barley in a colander and rinse in cold water to stop cooking, and remove the excess glutens. Toss to get rid of the excess water. Mix in all other ingredients, and adjust flavorings (salt, pepper, pesto) to taste. 

Pinot Noir Braised Lamb with Olives and Artichoke Hearts

Serves 8

One of my resolutions this year has been to learn how to braise, an embarrassing omission in my culinary abilities. Once I figured out what it was (ridiculously easy), I decided that I wanted to come up with my own braised lamb dish. This is what I came up with, and we LOVED it. Could be nice with some feta sprinkled on top, too. 


  • 6 pounds lamb shoulder chops
  • Canola oil (why canola? because it has almost no taste and a very high smoke point so it won't burn)
  • 1 bottle decent pinot noir
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Two 29 ounce cans diced tomato, San Marzano brand preferably
  • ~2 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 pint castelvetrano (very green) olives, pitted and roughly chopped. You can get these at Whole Foods in the deli section. They are not pitted, so you'll have to do it yourself. It's not fun, but takes only about 15-20 minutes, which you'll have while this is simmering.
  • 2 pints (appx 5 whole) artichoke hearts, roughly chopped, no stems. You should get the artichoke hearts from the deli rather than canned. The deli ones are far better, and really taste, as opposed to just providing another texture. 
  • 2 small, or one large bulb fennel, sliced into a 2 mm slice.
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Brown rice, cooked according to package directions

Dry each lamb chop with a paper towel, then liberally salt and pepper each. In a 6-8 quart pot, brown all of the lamb in canola oil. You'll need to do several batches. Remove lamb and place to the side and reserve as browned. Once all lamb is browned and removed from the pan, saute the onion and garlic, adding more canola oil if necessary. Add back lamb, then add all of the pinot noir, and all of the tomatoes, including juices. Add 2 cups of chicken stock to start. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for an hour (or so). Continue to simmer until the sauce is fairly viscose, but not stew like. Add water if it starts to get too thick. After an hour of simmering, add in the olives, fennel and artichoke hearts. Cook for another 10 - 20 minutes. The goal here it to get a nice "saucy" viscosity, but not cook out the flavor of the wine. Much more than an hour-and-a-half and you will kill the wine flavor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve over short grain brown rice. 

Pizza with Goat Cheese, Soppressata, Arugula, Egg and Red Pepper Base

Serves 2 - 3

Special equipment: 16" pizza pan. Pizza pans with holes are best for non-commercial pizza ovens, which only get to 550 degrees max (as opposed to the 800 degrees of commercial pizza and brick ovens).


  • 1 pound frozen pizza dough
  • 6 ounces roasted red pepper in water (you can get these canned or in the deli section). You will use around 1/2 to 1/3 of a standard 12 ounce can
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese, a combination of mozzerella, then asiago, pecorino romano, etc. I used pecorino romano for this, b/c it was left over from making pasta carbonara
  • 2 - 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1-2 ounces sliced soppressata or other spicy dry cured sausage
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 large handfuls of arugula
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
  • EVOO for brushing
Pre-heat oven to 550 or as high as it will go. Pizza will go on the bottom rack. 

Take the pizza dough out the night before or the morning you plan to make the pizza to give it time to rise. Place it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap such that plastic wrap is touching all of the exposed dough. This will prevent some of the dough from drying out, and as such will make it much easier to stretch into shape. 

Puree the red peppers in a blender or food processor until smooth(ish). This will be the base for your pizza. You should have 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup. 

Gently pull the dough out of the bowl, keeping it in tact to the extent you can. Form into a ball, and place on a floured surface, then cover with flour. Start to form into the disk of the pizza by grabbing a "corner" of dough and letting the rest fall away, then continue doing this moving around and creating a disk. Once you've got a basic disc shape, expand it by placing both fists under the dough and gradually working them around and out. Try VERY hard to not make holes. I've never successfully "patched" a hole, and holes make the crust around them soggy. 

Once the dough is set, place it on the pan, and stretch it over the sides. Brush the edge with EVOO. Evenly spoon the red pepper sauce onto the dough. It will actually be very sparse, otherwise it will be a soup. With pizza, the axiom seems to be: "use less sauce than you think you need, less cheese than you think you need, and more toppings." 

Evenly spread the shredded cheeses, break up the goat cheese and sprinkle around, distribute the soppressata. Keep back the arugula, eggs, and red pepper. 

Place the pizza in the oven and cook for 4 minutes. Crack the eggs onto the pizza and cook for 3-4 more minutes. 2 minutes after you crack the eggs, sprinkle the arugula over the pizza. The combined cooking time will be right at 8 minutes for a ~500 degree oven. 

Serve with crushed red pepper.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tuna Crudo with Salsa Verde

Serves 4 

- 3/4 pound fresh tuna steak, cut into a 3/8" dice
- Foccaccia bread, cut into 1/4" x ~4" slices
- Salsa verde (from epicurious.com):

  • 3 T capers
  • 1/2 C. packed flat leaf parsley, stems removed, then roughly chopped
  • 1/3 C. EVOO
  • 2 T roughly chopped shallots
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp roughly chopped garlic
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
Preheat oven to broil. 

Place all salsa verde ingredients in a food processor and process till chopped finely, but not uniform. Note, you much roughly chop the ingredients, or you will not be able to get the right chunkiness. 

Toss tuna with salsa verde. You'll have extra salsa verde, but it saves well frozen. Season crudo with salt and white pepper to taste.

Toast foccaccia in oven, about 30 second each side such that you have a golden brown crostini. Spoon crudo onto crostini. Taste and sprinkle with kosher salt as needed. 

            Sunday, April 21, 2013

            Goat Cheese, Piquillo Pepper & Chorizo Omelette

            Serves 1

            2 eggs, lightly beaten
            1/2 to 1 ounce goat cheese
            1-2 T 1/4" dice roasted red pepper/piquillo peppers
            2 T 1/4" dice sausage (chorizo, soppressata, etc.)
            1 clove garlic
            1/2 to 1 T butter

            In an 8" omelette pan, saute garlic in butter till beginning to brown over medium heat. Add eggs and reduce heat to low/medium-low. Allow to cook undisturbed until beginning to set. As this is occurring, use a rubber spatula to occasionally lift edges and prevent excessive browning of omelette. Once the omelette is mostly set, with just a touch of wetness on top, add fillings, and flip over half to create a crescent moon shape. Allow to continue cooking for 1 minute then gently flip over to the other side, trying to keep filling inside. Cook for another minute.

            Serve warm with a green salad.

            Arugula Salad on a Chicken Paillard Bed

            We had this in Miami over Easter. We loved how light and flavorful it was. You could do this a lot of ways. In Miami, it was served in a very savory fashion with an Italian salsa verde (caper/parsley/EVOO), and a lemon vinaigrette. We tried it at home with a more Moroccan style-- chicken seasoned with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and orange peel, and the salad a citrus dressing with orange wedges and toasted blanched almonds. We preferred the more savory version. I'm just posting the basic components below, given the range of creativity this dish allows. 

            Serves 4

            •  4 large chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded to 1/4" thick. Season as you choose, but at a minimum with salt and pepper (liberal, as usual)
            • 1 large package arugula
            • dressing for salad
            Saute chicken paillards over high heat for as little time as possible. I think this is around 1" each side, but I will continue ratcheting it back. the moister the chicken, the better. 

            Place chicken paillard on plate. Toss arugula with dressing and place on top of paillard. Add any additional accoutrements. 

            We had this with a rose and it was a perfect summer lunch/dinner. 

            Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Red Pepper Feta

            We had this at John Besh's restaurant Domenico in New Orleans. There it was served with plain whipped feta, but having made whipped feta with red peppers, we think that is the way to go. We have also tried it with pesto. For a party, serving with both (red and green) would be fun. 

            Serves 4-6 as an appetizer or side

            1 whole cauliflower
            kosher salt
            black pepper

            Preheat oven to "roast" at 425 degrees. Remove leaves from head of cauliflower. Place cauliflower in an oven proof glass dish. Liberally douse with EVOO. Liberally season with salt and cracked pepper. Place in oven in center and roast for 45 minutes. It will be golden brown on top. If it starts to burn, cover the top with  aluminum foil.

            Serve whole, giving people knives to carve out their portions. Serve with whipped feta & red pepper, and/or with pesto (arugula or basil).

            Spring Pea Soup with Mint and Creme Fraiche

            Serves 6 
            Modified from epicurious.com

            6 pounds fresh, unshelled peas (i.e. the peapods are still on)
            1/4 c. fresh mint leaves (lightly packed)
            1/4 c. fresh tarragon leaves (lightly packed)
            1 onion diced
            2 T. butter
            4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
            minced chives (garnish)
            8 T. creme fraiche (or sour cream)

            Shell peas, this will take longer than anything else. Takes about 1/2 and hour. Saute onion until translucent. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add peas, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, place in blender with remaining 2 cups stock, mint and tarragon. Blend until a uniform, non-chunky texture is achieved. Season with kosher salt and white pepper. Serve warm or cold. Place in bowls, then add chives and 1-2 T creme fraiche per bowl.  Saves well.

            Kale Salad with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

            Kale is my new favorite salad green. We had a caesar salad with it at a restaurant and just loved it. Since then, we've tried it as the base for my own caesar salad, as the base for cobb salad, and as the base for this salad. What's so wonderful about kale is that it is so turgid, that it never wilts. So a) it keeps in the fridge for weeks, and b) after you make the salad, it will actually keep till the next day--even with an acidic dressing like caesar. 

            This dressing is wonderful because, despite being rich and flavorful, it is actually very low calorie. Buttermilk, despite it's name, has very few calories, fewer calories per cup in fact than a cup of 1% milk. And there is no oil, so the only calories to speak of come from the blue cheese, which is fairly little, given how strong  flavor it is.

            Serves 4 for Salad Portions

            1 bunch kale, cut into 1" strips
            (optional) 4 ounces bacon cut into 1/4" dice & cooked

            2/3 C low-fat buttermilk
            1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
            2 tsp red wine vinegar
            1 T Dijon mustard
            4-6 ounces Roquefort or other blue cheese

            Blend all dressing ingredients in a blender and season with salt and pepper. Toss dressing with kale. Sprinkle on bacon. To make a modified Cobb salad, add diced avocado, chicken, and tomatoes.

            Lemon Poppy Seed Gelato

            1/2 cup lemon juice
            Grated peel of 2 lemons
            1/2 cup water, less 1 T
            1T amaretto
            1 cup sugar
            1/2 cup whole milk
            1/2 cup cream
            1 tsp poppy seeds

            Filter lemon juice, then place water, sugar, amaretto and grated lemon rind in a bowl until sugar is dissolved. Whisk cream and milk into gelato bowl and process till mostly set. Add poppy seeds. This will keep nicely and not get too hard, thanks to the amaretto.

            Bourbon Braised Pork Ribs

            Some friends of ours cooked this for us this winter while on a ski trip. Naturally we immediately incorporated it into the repertoire as a great easy, hearty dinner.

            Serves 8-10

            8 pounds meaty pork ribs
            8 ounces honey
            Two 29 ounce cans whole stewed peeled tomatoes
            1 handle bourbon
            Canola oil for braising.
            Tony Chachere's or other seasoning salt blend to taste
            Lemon juice if needed

            Brown pork ribs in batches in a large, high-walled pot (high-walled so that you don't get splattered too much). Set each batch aside.

            Once all pork has been braised, add back into pot, add bourbon, tomatoes and honey. Use a knife or potato masher to roughly cut the tomatoes. Simmer for 1.5 hours. Add more water as necessary, but eventually reduce to a thickish sauce.

            Serve over brown rice. Serve with cole slaw or kale salad with blue cheese buttermilk dressing.