Dining in the turning lane.

These days, sitting at a dinner table in New York City directly facing oncoming traffic is a bit like climbing out of a rollercoaster in mid loop-de-loop. In order to survive you need a severe case of cabin-fever, a high tolerance for risk, a great relationship with your bladder, a healthy appetite…and a face-mask of course.

As I savor my chorizo-crusted cod while the sanitation truck idles right beside me churning garbage from the upper-east side, or as I splash Negroni all over my chin when the M101 bus suddenly blasts an impatient horn at a stopped SUV, I begin to wonder whether motorists from out-of-town are even aware that what used to be a turning lane – is now a dining room. While this respite from apartment cooking is certainly welcome, it’s merely a matter of time before the headlines read: “Three casualties as Range Rover ruins birthday dinner”, or “Texting driver rams couple during dessert”. 

It certainly has been disheartening to witness one staple institution after the next throwing in the napkin as a consequence of the lockdown. But then I find myself inspired by the resilience and determination of others who are trying to keep their wood-ovens burning despite all the new safety rules and regulations.

If I had to score how well restaurants are maintaining COVID safety measures? I’d give them a solid “D” for “it Depends”. Some have QR code menu’s with contactless bill-pay and sterilized, pre-packaged silverware, while others still clutch sticky, plastic menus under sweaty armpits, or hold your glass with an ungloved hand for water refills. But despite the chorus of complaints that most restaurateurs are still not able to eke out a living with sidewalk dining, others have won the jackpot as they can now exploit the motherlode of self-promotion and appetite persuasion by giving passers-by delectable temptations with some of their freshest, most desirable offerings in real time. Yes, even I have stopped and admired a dish of steaming Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe and promptly planted my rear-end into the nearest available seat.

Other advantages of dining in the parking lane include the diminishment of those irritatingly hoity-toity dress-codes like “business casual” or “cocktail attire” for the ever-so democratic “no mask – no service!” And obscure, hole-in-the-wall establishments are holes-in-the-wall no more, as their tables have crept up and down our sidewalks faster than rats on the subway.  Half of me is thrilled for these entrepreneurs who can now accommodate exponentially more diners per sitting than in pre-COVID times, but my heart goes out to their micro kitchens bursting at the seams, trying to satisfy quadruple the appetites. 

Scaffolding, formerly the ubiquitous feature along Manhattan’s streets, has been upstaged by a strange outcrop of little outdoor “areas” that defy description. Are they tents? Are they shacks, cabanas, marquees, food caves, sukkah’s? Regardless, there are no two alike. Some are merely umbrella-covered matchstick frames with a handful of morosely overwatered begonias. And if they have more elbow room, others have ensconced attractive hedging to keep diners apart. But every time I find myself sandwiched between those ridiculous plexiglass screens, I can’t help feeling like a hungry puppy in a pet shop window.

Even scaffolding-fronted bistros have made the best of their visual impediment by transforming their sidewalks into Disney-esque, theme park sensations. When clustered together on pedestrian-only cross-streets amid jazz bands and buskers, these shacks have somehow fashioned a uniquely warm and astonishingly festive ambiance which has become the newest nightlife attraction in a city formerly famous for not sleeping. Think: Oktoberfest – meets Chilli-cookout – meets travelling circus – meets Christmas market. 

As temperatures begin to plummet, many lightweight structures are getting overnight makeovers with sturdier materials including roofing, rain gutters and solid side-paneling (heat lamps are on the way) – quickly transforming them into enclosed “rooms” which will undoubtably beg the question: “Is this still considered “outdoor dining” or have we merely transplanted the restaurant’s interiors onto the sidewalk?” (If Governor Cuomo want’s my opinion on the matter, he knows where to find me.)

As we edge closer to the former normality of indoor dining, I have mixed feelings about whether folks will show up and risk infection or whether they might continue to dine al fresco even if the new dress-code includes coat, scalf, gloves…and face-mask.

Eating up Maine’s coastline

Camden, Maine

Elevating our destination options beyond the kitchen and dining room have been tricky this summer. But fortunately for mask-wearing, rule-abiding, socially vacant New Yorkers, Maine has become a silver lining on the Corona horizon. If not just for the adorable New England homes clad in white narrow siding and steep steepled churches amid emerald jungles of spruce, maple and pine, nor the freckles of islands polka-dotting the coastline, the Maine food scene is a sizable draw to the northeastern most state – the largest of which includes the ever-popular lobster dinner pilgrimage from all around the globe. 

Whole live lobsters, Five Islands Lobster Co. – Georgetown

Judging by the multitudes of cottage industries you travel past along US route 1, it becomes apparent that Mainers are very serious about what they chew on, regardless of what else you might find on the same plate. “Lobster rolls & Ice-cream”, shrieked one roadside sign. Then another. And another. “Salt-water taffy & Steamer clams” was perhaps less frequent, as was “Maine Blueberries & fresh Haddock” or “Antiques and Blueberry scones”. But “Furniture & Fudge” has to be my all-time favorite!

Assorted pastries, Tandem Bakery – Portland

Thanks to COVID: restaurants, bistros, coffee shops and bakeries have all retooled the way they dispense their eats and treats to loyal locals or clued-in out-of-towners. Distanced dine-in, wait-listed dine-out, on-line ordering, drive-by pick-up, and reheat-at-home vary from one establishment to the next, but the quality and variety are pretty darn remarkable.

White Barn Inn Restaurant

My dining recommendations stretch northwards from low-Maine (ha!) to Bar Harbor and a bunch of kitchens in between. 

KENNEBUNKPORT

Halibut crudo, White Barn Inn

Perhaps the most elegant spot in all its silver-service-candelabra-white-linen-live-pianist glory is the 46 year-old White Barn Inn Restaurant. These days, the only farm animals in this magnificently renovated former barn are either peppercorn-crusted or crispy skin sauteed. The multi-option 4-course set menu is contemporary, flavor-forward with hints of nostalgia and an emphasis on an elevated dining experience that never lets you forget where you are.

Lobster Bisque, White Barn Inn

Absolute standouts have to be the citrusy-fruity-fresh Halibut crudo with watermelon, plums, mint and yuzu koshu, and the decadent Lobster bisque doused with a shot of espresso crème fraiche, and of course an incredibly tender and phenomenally umami Beef tenderloin with Foie Gras Crust. Being a sucker for fruit courses, I was also smitten with their Raspberry sorbet spiked with rhubarb and black peppercorns.

Beef Tenderloin with Foie Gras Crust, White Barn Inn

Perhaps the healthiest start to your day in this charming hamlet is a fresh acai bowl or an open-faced sandwich from Fiafia. This buzzy corner coffee shop makes everything from scratch with the freshest of ingredients. Their version of an Avocado toast includes a tomato pesto with runaway crispy gorbanzo beans, and the legendary Bananarama almond-butter and banana toast with coconut chips is beyond sublime.

Lobster Roll, Clam Shack

As we were focused on orchestrating our own private “lobster-fest”, we stood in line at the famous Clam Shack for a hearty, crisp and meaty lobster roll served between the puffy cheeks of a butter-toasted burger bun (versus the standard northern slit along a hotdog roll). Antoni Porovski from “Queer Eye” recently named it the best Lobster Roll in the nation, but as scrumptious as it might be, I had many more ahead of me before rendering a verdict quite so promptly. 

PORTLAND

New England Clam Chowder, Eventide

Not sure what it is about this sleepy portside town, but Portland is home to some of the most memorable meals of my (most recent) life. If you haven’t already put your name on the waiting list at Eventide, you’ll probably never get a table.

Oysters with ice accoutrements, Eventide

They modestly call it a “reimagined classic Oyster Bar”, but their James Beard award winning kitchen skills stretch far beyond shucking. Sure, the oysters are sublime but the accoutrements are what got my sails up. Instead of hot sauce (yawn) or mignonette (snore), these guys make ice slushies out of Tabasco. And Kimchi. And red onion. And horseradish. I mean…come on.

Lobster Roll, Eventide

Their brown butter tossed Lobster Roll in a bao bun is so insanely tasty that it has its own trademark forgoodnesssakes. I snagged the recipe for their delectable New England Clam chowder, which includes salt pork for an extra layer of smokiness.

Maine Lobster Panini, Duckfat

Another informal outdoor favorite is Duckfat. The long lines of expectation for their 7-of-a-kind Paninis (from duck to brisket) don’t disappoint. Even the daily special Maine lobster with fresh claw-and-knuckle meat, house-cultured cream, cotilla cheese, smoked corn and lime, crushed between hot, grooved ciabatta slices is a transcendent hit. But the real reason these guys had to build a special staging area just for the waiting list, is their crispy Belgian fries with 5 spiked mayo dipping sauces. 

Belgian Fries with Dipping sauce flight, Duckfat

Just like Philadelphia’s two rival Philly Cheesesteak shops (Geno’s and Pat’s), Portland has two rival bakeries flanking either end of town. The Standard Bakery in a former dockland warehouse on the east end and Tandem Coffee, a former gas station in the west.

Tandem Bakery

Both serve fresh, daily & delicious croissants, scones, breads and treats to a steady stream of loyal locals who seem quite willing to stand in line from the dawn’s early light.

Dark Chocolate, Maple Bacon and Maine Blueberry donuts, Holy Donuts

But if you can’t decide between a slice of cake or a donut, why not try them both…together. Holy Donuts infuse their flavors well beneath the frosting. Whether it’s Dark chocolate glazed or Maple bacon or Sweet potato, these might look like donuts – but they taste like cake. And adding to the curiosity factor, it’s the local mashed potatoes that gives them their unique melt-in-the-mouth texture. (So, does that mean that 1 donut = 1 serving of vegetables?)

Lobster Roll, Two Lights Lobster

The best lobster roll in Portland is a mere hop and a skip to the south in luscious Cape Elizabeth at Two Lights Lobster, and for those who can’t decide between butter or mayo, you get both. Oh, and the 270 degree Atlantic ocean view is an added bonus.

Fore Street

Fore Street is the swankiest and most renown establishment in the city, partly because it gave birth to Portland’s newfound foodie scene, but thanks also to the multi-sensory, high-drama pageant. As your eyes adjust to the candle-lit, high ceilinged, warehouse space, the smell of the wood oven and open rotisserie permeates as a perfect underscore to an endless parade of chefs and waiters shuttling one delectable locally farm-raised dish after the next. 

Wood oven roasted rope-cultured mussels, Fore Street

Blueberry salad with kale and duck confit in a mint honey vinaigrette, Wood oven roasted rope-cultured mussels in a magnificent garlic and almond butter with dry vermouth, a succulent Hangar steak spiked with chimichurri, or a ridiculously wondrous Pork loin, hand-rubbed with who knows what are just a fraction of the culinary avalanche.

GEORGETOWN

Five Islands Lobster Co.

The best and freshest lobsters (with the longest lines, naturally) can be found at Five Islands Lobster Co. (Amusing sidebar: we declined their offer of “crackers”, assuming these to be of the crispy, Saltine variety – only to realize that we were out of options to pry open our steaming dinner. I might as well have worn a “Clueless” cap all day.)

ROCKLAND

Ricotta & Wild Nettle Cavatelli, Primo

About a half song’s drive south of Camden, you might overshoot an unremarkable doll’s house, which is home the most authentic farm-to-table Italian restaurant in the state. Uber-popular Primo is a multi-decade, self-sustaining operation that is part farm, part kitchen, part greenhouse, but total phenomenon. “Simplicity, seasonality and freshness” are chef Melissa Kelly’s maxims for delivering home-made breads, pastas, hand-raised pork, chicken, vegetables and locally sourced seafood. To the “spectacular” list I would add their Ricotta & wild nettle cavatelli, tossed with wild mushrooms, grilled sherried chicken, snap peans and greens, and the Pork Saltimbocca, luxuriously layered with garden spinach and prosciutto over a roasted garlic mash in a heavenly mushroom Madeira jus. And if you can make some room, the sensationally crisp, tart and utterly dreamy cherry and rhubarb Crostata is the perfect finale.

Crostata, Primo

CAMDEN

Local Halibut, Natalie’s

Natalie’s hoity-toity, high-drama décor is pleasantly offset by the attentive and attractive wait staff who bring Camden’s most romantic dining-room all the way down to harbor level. Chef Chris Long’s ultimate antidote to crustacean yearning is a 5-course Lobster tasting menu from rolled to broiled. Other highlights include Seared local scallops over forbidden black rice and summer beans and the amazingly crispy Local halibut with chickpea, basil and zucchini. 

Seared Scallops, Natalie’s

Fierce favorite Long Grain (currently serving take-out only) can turn any hotel room into a Pan-Asian cornucopia with their outrageously delicious Vietnamese spicy wings and much-adored Maine crab fried rice.

Assorted Take-out from Long Grain

The rest of this area’s blogworthy bistros proliferate neighboring towns and Hamlets along US route 1, with Chase’s Daily in nearby Belfast being the torchbearer for their bushels of picked-this-morning, hand-raised produce and a small menu of delectable vegan dishes.

Chase’s Daily

Their Cold cucumber soup with buttermilk, dill and cilantro, or the Enchiladas with farm greens, potato, cheddar and cortija, smothered in salsa verde and pickled onions and more than worth the 35 minute drive.

Enchiladas, Chase’s Daily

BAR HARBOR

Heirloom Tomato Salad, Salt & Steel

Which brings us to the jewel in Maine’s coastal crown. Bar Harbor has been an “anti-Hampton” summer escape for decades thanks to the incomparable forest, ocean and mountain vistas. But the clutter of T-shirt and tchotchke stores in the mini downtown area has kept dining options more approachable than noteworthy – with 2 big exceptions: Salt & Steel and Veranda. Thirty-something year old chef Bobby Will is a smart and focused Italian toque who fully supports his local purveyors at Salt & Steel with a bold and flavor-forward menu that includes an unforgettably tart Heirloom tomato salad contrasted with lemon ricotta, Maine blueberry-red wine-reduction and crunchy pistachios. Unlike many pastas with shellfish, he only adds a smattering of house-made garganelli to a magnificent bowl of Frenchman Bay mussels with organic bacon and Aleppo pepper.

Organic Sweet Italian Sausage, Salt & Steel

But the knockout on the table is a dark and tangy, sweet and rich Organic Sweet Italian Sausage with lumache pasta, sunflower seed pesto and a handful of oven-dried Kalamata olives for a pinch of salt. Utterly astonishing.

Maine crab Salad, Veranda

Several rungs up the elegance ladder, nestled under a pergola of jasmine overlooking the last rays of dusk over Frenchman Bay is an astoundingly meticulous kitchen serving high-end dishes with local produce. While the wondrously romantic Veranda at the Balance Rock Inn takes itself fairly seriously, the food is fun enough with some standouts including a deliciously crunchy Scallop tempura and a delightfully citrusy Maine crab salad, but the Risotto with a bright green chive oil ash around the permiter is sensational. 

MDI Ice Cream

Before we head out of town, the only other local “must do” is MDI Ice-cream. This beloved institution facing the Village green park covers the gamut of flavors, from middle-of-the-road to all the way over-the-cliff. Bay of Figs, Blackstrap banana, Brigadeiro, Coriander lemon curd, fresh basil or Girl scouts and I’m just getting started.

Burning Tree

Right on the edge of the Acadia National Park (and probably the final shred of civilization before you enter this natural wonderland) is a quirky little garden bistro called Burning Tree. Allison Martin and Elmer Beal Jr’s seafood and plant-heavy kitchen and bakery is rather like a handful of family secrets combined with an incredible ability to make the absolute best of whatever they can get their hands on. The sensationally delicious Scallop, shrimp and crab fritters breaded with panko and served with a spicy mayo dip have ruined my heretofore love of crab cakes forever. And when I’m not dreaming of the one-of-a-kind Blueberry lavender soup, which is a simple but wicked combination of lavender-infused buttermilk and pureed blueberries, I’m probably trying to replicate their Nicoise-like House-smoked salmon salad.

Beal’s Lobster Pier

And finally, if you’re looking for the absolute best and undisputed freshest live lobster or lobster roll in the area, ignore the local hangouts and head straight to Beal’s Lobster Pier in neighboring Southwest Harbor. These guys have been hauling, cooking and shipping Maine’s finest crop to restaurants and homes from around the corner to around the nation. Not only do they know what they are doing, but they’ve been doing it for nearly 100 years. And this delightful ramshackle, family-run institution offers far more than your standard lobster pot fare.

Lobster Bites, Beal’s Lobster Pier

Menu highlights include the simply steamed mussels and clams – so unbelievably fresh that the ocean hasn’t had time to realize that they’re missing, and the most irritatingly more-ish Lobster bites, which are tender morsels of claw meat, crumbed and briefly fried (why did no-one think of this before?) served with lemon sriracha and ginger-soy dips. And speaking of dips, Beal’s have trademarked their amped-up dipping butters to include garlic and spicy buffalo.

“Shedder” Lobster, Beal’s Lobster Pier

Which brings us to the main event – the lobster itself. Now, folks who prefer the tighter and meatier flesh of tail-meat, request females. And those who prefer the softer, more flavorful claw meat, order males. Fine. But in order for a lobster to grow, it has to replace its wardrobe now and then for a larger size. So, if you happen to request a “shedder” at Beal’s, you’re in for the absolute all-time Rolls Royce of crustacean delights. You see, due to having taken on saltwater to fill the gap between body and shell, the lobster has unknowingly (yet most conveniently) brined its flesh, making it more tender, more flavorful and dare I say…sweeter. But you’d better eat up as the season is almost over.

Reid State Park, Georgetown

https://www.theclamshack.net

https://aubergeresorts.com/whitebarninn/dine/white-barn-inn-restaurant/

https://www.tandemcoffee.com/pages/bakery

http://www.bealslobster.com

http://www.forestreet.biz

https://www.duckfat.com

http://www.nataliesrestaurant.com

http://www.chasesdaily.me

https://www.theburningtreerestaurant.com

http://www.mdiic.com

https://www.saltandsteelbh.com

https://www.primorestaurant.com

My favorite quarantine recipes Final issue

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Melon soup with butter-poached shrimp

As threatened, I stuck to my challenge (like ants to a syrup dribble down the side of a bottle) to never repeat the same home-cooked meal twice as long as the lock-down lasted. But now, as the deep-freeze starts to thaw on the city’s restaurant scene, where bountiful boxwood hedges and hoards of hydrangeas encroach further and further into Manhattan’s avenues, the time has come to hang up my apron, put away my knives and switch my support from grocery stores to the slowly re-emerging culinary industry. As I curiously wait to see which establishments open now, soon, later on or never again, one thing is certain – it’s going to feel downright amazing to hold a (sterilized) menu in my (sanitized) hands as I listen to the specials from a (masked) waiter who refills my water with (gloved) hands! Laissez les bons temps rouler à nouveau. Here though are my final week’s home-cooked recipes.

 

SUNDAY

Many a good cut of meat gets re-butchered by well-meaning home cooks. But to be fair, the odds are against us: There are so many ways to ruin a steak, but only 1 way to cook it perfectly. This is all you need to know…

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Perfectly seared steaks with Green Peppercorn sauce

PERFECTLY SEARED STEAKS

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 filet, strip or sirloin steaks, 1″ thick
  • kosher salt
  • ground black peppercorns

DIRECTIONS

Preheat an oven to 200 degrees, middle rack.
Trim the steak of any excess fat around the edges. (They won’t cook long enough for the fat to soften).
Salt them on all sides and let them cook in the cool oven until they reach and internal temperature of 100 degrees. (About 45 minutes).
Rest the steaks for at least 15 minutes.
Heat a cast iron skillet and sear the steaks for just 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and season with fresh black pepper.

GREEN PEPPERCORN SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tblsp. Green peppercorns
  • 2 Tblsp. Minced Shallots
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Beef broth
  • 3 Tblsp. Brandy
  • 2 Tblsp. Low Fat Sour cream
  • 1 Tsp. ground black pepper
  • corn starch

DIRECTIONS

Sauté the minced shallots in a little olive oil until they are soft. Add the peppercorns and ground pepper and cook while stirring regularly.
Add the beef broth and bring to a boil until the liquid is reduced by about half.
Add the brandy and simmer for 10 mins on low heat.
Add prepared corn-starch in cold water to thicken – if necessary.
Remove from heat and add the sour cream and serve immediately.

 

MONDAY

Over the years I have amended and tweaked this fairly fool-proof recipe for a spectacularly refreshing, relatively classic and utterly yummy Chinese Chicken salad.

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Chinese Chicken Salad

CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb skinless and boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 Tblspn Asian sesame oil
  • 1 Tblspn Chinese chili garlic sauce
  • 1 Tblspn finely minced garlic
  • 1 Tblspn finely minced ginger
  • 2 tspn fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1/4 savoy cabbage (tough outer leaves removed) cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 radicchio cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz raw snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 6 scallions (including 3 inches of green) sliced on the bias
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, thinly slivered)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 separated mandarin for garnish
  • 3 Tblsp roasted, unsalted peanuts (roughly chopped) for garnish

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 Tblspn peanut oil
  • 2 Tblspn sesame oil
  • 1 Tblspn smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 Tblspn honey
  • 1 tspn Dijon mustard
  • 1 tspn Soy sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Combine the chicken, sesame oil, chili sauce, garlic, ginger and lime juice in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, tossing once.
Prepare the dressing. Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender. Process on high speed until smooth. Refrigerate until well chilled.
Cook the chicken on an oiled, rimmed baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 18 – 20 minutes until the thickest parts register 165 degrees.
Cool slightly and then cut into strips. Place in a large bowl. Add the cabbage, snow peas, scallions, bell pepper and cilantro.
Toss the salad with 1/2 of the dressing or as much as desired.
Dress with the mandarin pieces and chopped peanuts.

 

TUESDAY

I devoured the most delicious Avocado soup in a Viennese bistro many decades ago. But all the waiter would tell me was that “if you cook the avocado, the dish will be ruined.” It took me quite a while to recreate it, but it’s a whole lot easier than you might think.

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Avocado soup

AVOCADO SOUP

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 ripe avocados.
  • 4 cups of good vegetable stock (home-made preferably)
  • 1/4 cup of cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 slices of white sandwich bread
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the croutons first. With a long, sharp bread knife, cut the bread into 1/4 inch cubes. Crush the garlic and toss into a large frying pan with the heated oil.
Fry the croutons over medium high heat by constantly stirring them. If the oil dries up too quickly, add a further 2 tablespoons.
When all the cubes are toasted and golden brown, scoop them onto a paper towel and drain.

For the Soup:
Warm the vegetable stock in a saucepan.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the cream to the soup and simmer at low heat while whisking. Only minutes before serving, blend the avocados and whisk them into the heated soup. DO NOT COOK THE AVOCADOS! Serve immediately with the croutons.

 

WEDNESDAY

Like any Wienerschnitzel or Veal chop Milanese, adding a side of Lingonberry jam brings some rich sweet-and-sourness to an already luxuriously decadent meal.

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Veal chop Milanese

VEAL CHOP MILANESE

INGREDIENTS

  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Four 1-inch-thick veal rib chops
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lemon sliced into wedges
  • Lingonberry preserves or jam for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the flour in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the milk. In a third shallow bowl, toss the panko with the lemon zest.
Season the veal chops with salt and pepper, dredge them in the flour and shake off the excess. Dip the veal chops in the egg mixture and let the excess drip off. Coat the veal chops with panko, pressing to help the crumbs adhere.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil with the vegetable oil until shimmering. Add 2 of the veal chops to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until they are browned and crisp on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate, turn the veal chops over and cook until they are browned and crisp on the other side, about 2 minutes longer.
Transfer the veal chops to a large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chops.

Bake the veal chops for about 15 minutes, turning them once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the meat near the bone registers 140°. Serve with Lingonberry preserves and lemon wedges on the side.

 

 

THURSDAY

This Spinach Salad is another mega-favorite of ours from Yotam Ottolenghi’s collection. What makes this dish so more-ish are the crispy, crunchy, spicy, umami pita chips and almonds.

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Spinach Salad with dates and almonds

BABY SPINACH SALAD WITH DATES AND ALMONDS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tblsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 medium red onion thinly sliced
  • 100g pitted Medjool dates quartered lengthways
  • 30g undalted butter
  • 2 Tblsp olive oil
  • 2 small pitas roughly torn into 1 inch pieces
  • 75g raw almonds roughly chopped
  • 2 tap sumac
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 150g baby spinach leaves, washed
  • 2 Tblspn lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

Put the vinegar onion and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain any residual vinegar and discard.
Meanwhile, heat the butter and half the olive oil in a medium frying pan. Add the pita and almonds and cook them on a medium heat for 4 – 6 minutes, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the sumac, chilli and 1/4 tsp of salt. Set aside to cool.
When you are ready to serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add the dates and red onion, remaining olive oil, lemon juice and another pinch of salt.
Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

 

FRIDAY

Believe it or not, Cucumber Gazpacho debuted decades before anyone had access to tomatoes. This is another cobbled together restaurant remake which miraculously takes the edge off of a sweltering summers day.

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Cucumber Gazpacho

CUCUMBER GAZPACHO

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cucumbers—peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup seedless green grapes
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 – 4 Tblspn distilled white vinegar (to taste)
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup roasted Marcona almonds
  • Chili oil for serving

DIRECTIONS

In a blender, combine the cucumbers, grapes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and almond milk; puree until smooth. Season with salt.
Strain through a fine sieve to remove any solids. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Garnish with a few droplets of chili oil and toss in a few Marcona almonds. Serves 6.

 

SATURDAY

My Sesame crusted Pork tenderloin is probably one of the oldest “keeper” recipes in our collection. I have upgraded several times the sauce over the years, but I have never been able to substitute the (salt-free) Mrs. Dash’s spices. Don’t mess with it. Just trust me on this one. It works.

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Sesame-crusted Pork tenderloin with Port wine reduction sauce

SESAME-CRUSTED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH PORT WINE REDUCTION

INGREDIENTS

For the tenderloin:

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Mrs. Dash herb seasoning
  • 6 tablespoons sesame seeds

For the Sauce:

  • 2 Tblsp shallots, chopped fine
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 cup port wine
  • 1 cup demi-glace or low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp cold water
  • Fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Using your hands, spread pork loin with honey. Mix soy sauce with Mrs. Dash garlic and herbs seasoning and place in a zip lock bag, add pork loin and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to 8 hours, turning from time to time.
Preheat barbecue or oven to 400 degrees and place a cast iron skillet in the oven. Place sesame seeds on waxed paper and roll tenderloin in sesame seeds until completely covered. Do not discard the marinade.
Briefly sear all sides of the loin over direct heat on the barbecue and then move to indirect heat. Alternately, sear in the now hot cast-iron skillet on the stove-top and then return the skillet to the oven.
Cook for approx. 25 – 30 minutes (depending on size of loin) until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Allow the loin to rest under tin foil for 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan heat the oil and sauté the shallots until soft. Add the residual tenderloin marinade and bring to a boil. Reduce by half and add 1 cup Port wine and reduce by half. Add 1 cup beef stock and reduce by half. Season with fresh ground pepper to taste. Continue to cook on medium-low for 10 minutes. Add Corn Starch and water slurry to thicken – if necessary.
Carve the loin into medallions and serve with the sauce.

 

BONUS RECIPE:

IMG_5038

Grilled Peaches

GRILLED PEACHES

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 6 large fresh peaches with peel, halved and pitted
  • Vanilla ice cream

DIRECTIONS

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the white sugar, balsamic vinegar, and pepper. Simmer until liquid has reduced by one half. It should become slightly thicker. Remove from heat, and set aside.
(If the peach halves are still hard, you can microwave them for 1 – 2 minutes until they soften in the center. Let them cool completely before continuing.)
Preheat grill on medium-high heat, (or preheat a ridged cast-iron griddle pan until searing hot.)
Lightly oil the grill grate. Place peaches on the prepared grill (or griddle pan), cut side down. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the flesh is caramelized and nice dark lines are burned in. Turn peaches over. Brush the top sides with the balsamic glaze, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the peaches to individual serving dishes, and drizzle with remaining glaze. Sprinkle with vanilla ice cream.

Stay safe, stay sane and support our re-emerging culinary industry.

 

 

My favorite quarantine recipes Part X

IMG_4909

Corn and Gorgonzola salad

If you’re just joining us now, let me catch you up on what’s been happening for the past 10 weeks. Being a bit of a foodie in a foodie city where all 18,000 food establishments are closed, I decided to embark on a personal challenge: to keep up my beloved culinary variety by cooking a different dish every day until the lock-down ends. And so, as I wring out my recipe books with new, used, cherished, nostalgic and beloved meals, I hope you  join me as I eat “out” every night of the week.

 

SUNDAY

It’s hardly surprising that Butter chicken is one of the hottest items on any Indian restaurant menu. It’s relatively mild, silky smooth and a little bit indulgent. But this recipe is not only butter-free, but it pretty much cooks itself too. The real work today was making our own Naan bread for the first time. It’s fun, rather easy (by bread standards) and it “bakes” in the pan.

IMG_4919

Slow cooker Butter Chicken with Home-made Naan bread

SLOW COOKER BUTTER CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk (if necessary, whisk to combine the liquid and solids before measuring)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Cooked basmati or jasmine rice, for serving

DIRECTIONS

In medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions to skillet, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and ginger, and cook another 2 minutes. Add garam masala, tomato paste and salt; cook and stir 2 minutes.

Place chicken pieces in a slow cooker, then add tomato paste mixture, lime zest and juice, coconut milk and chicken stock. Stir everything together, cover and cook on low heat setting for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, until the chicken is cooked through. (You may let it cook up to 7 hours if necessary, but the chicken may be very soft and shred.) Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati or jasmine rice, and naan if you have some. Serves 4.

NAAN BREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup ice water
  • ⅓ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

In measuring cup or small bowl, combine water, yogurt, 3 tablespoons oil, and egg yolk. Process flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined, about 2 seconds. With processor running, slowly add water mixture; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.

Add salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Let dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. Fold partially risen dough over itself 8 times by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle, turning bowl 90 degrees after each fold. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising one more time, for total of three 30-minute rises.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Place heatproof plate on rack. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into smooth, tight ball. Place dough balls on lightly oiled baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic coated with vegetable oil spray. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer 1 ball to lightly floured work surface and sprinkle with flour. Using hands and rolling pin, press and roll piece of dough into 9-inch round of even thickness, sprinkling dough and work surface with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Using fork, poke entire surface of round 20 to 25 times. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Wipe oil out of skillet completely with paper towels. Mist top of dough lightly with water. Place dough in pan, moistened side down; mist top surface of dough with water; and cover. Cook until bottom is browned in spots across surface, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip naan, cover, and continue to cook on second side until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. (If naan puffs up, gently poke with fork to deflate.) Flip naan, brush top with about 1 teaspoon melted butter, transfer to plate in oven, and cover plate tightly with aluminum foil. Repeat rolling and cooking remaining 3 dough balls. Once last naan is baked, serve immediately. Serves 4.

MONDAY

When Kale salad and I were first introduced, we didn’t really get along so well. It felt like I was chewing down on an old garden hose. But then I discovered that the leaves have a thick coating that instinctively repels even the finest dressings in the world, unless you “massage” them down – literally squeeze the $#!* out of them with a little olive oil and salt in between your thumbs and forefingers until they succumb to the pressure and turn dark green. That’s when all the hoopla happens, and this surprisingly crunchy, salty, creamy salad is a show-stopper.

IMG_4935

Kale salad with garlicky panko

KALE SALAD WITH GARLICKY PANKO

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in the panko and cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate to cool.
Cut the stems from the kale and tear the leaves into pieces. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 1/2 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the kale; massage with the dressing using your fingers. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Transfer to a platter, top with the feta, garlic panko and serve.

TUESDAY

Summer isn’t summer without a good Gazpacho. There’s just something special about being able to drink sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes. This recipe easily serves about 8, and so we siphon off a little each day for just under a week. If you’re a purist, be warned: I took the liberty of adding some feta to this predominantly Spanish recipe. I know. I know. But it does give it a smidge more creaminess. Don’t hate me until you try it.

IMG_4966

Gazpacho with Avocado Salsa

GAZPACHO WITH AVOCADO SALSA

INGREDIENTS

For the Gazpacho:

  • 6 heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1-2 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil (or less,depending on consistency)
  • 2 peeled cucumbers
  • 2 Tblspn white wine vinegar to taste
  • 2 square inches of feta cheese.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

For the Avodaco Salsa:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 Tblspn chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS

Gazpacho:
Blend all ingredients for at least 5 minutes on highest blender setting. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Salsa:
Dice the avocado and carefully toss with the other three ingredients. Layer on top of Gazpacho before serving.

WEDNESDAY

I found this recipe in the New York Times Magazine a few years ago, where it was originally called “Scratchy husband spaghetti”. Evidently, whenever the food writer’s husband would have a bad day at the office, she combined two of the most popular Roman pasta dishes into one. A sensational example of 1+1=55.

IMG_4942

Linguine Cacia e Pepe & Aglio e Olio

LINGUINE CACIA E PEPE & AGLIO E OLIO

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ pound unsalted butter
  • 1 whole head of garlic, or at least 10 cloves, peeled, sliced thin across the grain
  • Good quality salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 4 teaspoons of chile flakes
  • A generous 1/2 cup of grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Many, many, many cranks of the pepper mill

DIRECTIONS

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Simultaneously bring a 10-inch deep-sided sauté pan to medium-low heat.

Add the olive oil and butter and sliced garlic to the pan and let the butter melt, as the garlic begins to warm through.
When the pasta water gets roiling, add salt to taste. Add the pasta.
Add chile flakes to the warming garlic-oil mixture and swirl the pan a bit and let the garlic soften and start to turn golden as the butter starts to foam. When the pasta is al dente, pull it from the boiling water with tongs, let it briefly drip its excess water above the pasta pot, but then place it right into the garlic-chile-oil pan, letting the last drips of water go right into the sauce.
Turn up the heat under the pasta now and stir vigorously for about a minute.
Turn off the heat, add cheese and a lot of black pepper. Toss and distribute all the garlic and the cheese and the chile flakes using two forks like you are tossing a salad, making sure every bit is coated and luscious. Serve.

THURSDAY

I’m a big fan of big flavors. And the smoky heat of Gochujang (Korean fermented chilies) always hits the spot for me. These Barbecue Ribs are dry rubbed the night before, and then blasted 3 times with a jolt of vinegary, peppery spice while they cook low and slow. Don’t skimp on the peanuts and scallions. They add some brightness and crunch as the meat falls off the bone and your face gets smeared with sauce, from nose to chin.

IMG_4951

Gochujang Barbecue Ribs

GOCHUJANG BARBECUE RIBS

INGREDIENTS

For the Ribs and Rub:

  • 3 racks St. Louis-style spareribs (2 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground black pepper

For the Gochujang sauce:

  • 1/2 cup gochujang
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder, such as ancho
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

For the Garnish:

  • 1 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 cup sliced scallions

DIRECTIONS

The day before you plan to cook the ribs, use a paper towel to help you pull the silver skin off the backside of the ribs. Combine salt, light brown sugar and black pepper to make a rub, then generously season ribs with the rub on both sides. (You may have some rub left over.) Place on a rimmed baking sheet, wrap in plastic, put in the refrigerator, and let sit overnight.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients and whisk until brown sugar is dissolved. (You can use a hand mixer if you’d like.)

The next day, prepare a charcoal grill (preferably a kamado, the egg-shaped ceramic grill) and warm it to 225 to 250 degrees. If your grill doesn’t have a thermometer, use an oven thermometer to try to keep the temperature consistent. Place ribs on a rack so they are not sitting directly on the grate. If baking in an oven, preheat to 275 degrees and cover ribs with tin foil. Cook 3 to 4 hours, turning and basting ribs with barbecue sauce every hour.

Glaze the ribs with the sauce once more before serving. Cut the ribs and then sprinkle with peanuts and scallions and serve. Serves 6.

FRIDAY

Just in case we didn’t have enough garlic going on this week, (I must be driving my poor neighbors crazy) this Spanish version of Garlic Shrimp has a few taste surprises that manage to cut through the luxuriously delectably garlicy olive-oil.

IMG_4957

Gambas al ajillo

GAMBAS AL AJILLO

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 pounds shelled and de-veined large shrimp, tails intact
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small dried hot red chile, seeded and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry, such as manzanilla
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Crusty bread, for serving

DIRECTIONS

In a large strainer, toss the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and let stand for 2 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water and toss another 1 tsp salt and let stand for 2 minutes. Rince thoroughly and dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet, combine the garlic and olive oil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is very fragrant and just starts to brown, 5 – 8 minutes. Add the chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.

Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook over medium-low, stirring and turning the shrimp occasionally, until barely pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, sherry, lemon zest and a generous pinch of salt. Remove from the heat and let stand until the shrimp are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve in the skillet, passing crusty bread at the table. Serves 4.

 

 

SATURDAY

Don’t be misled by what looks like a complicated fish dish. In fact, the Roasted Sea bass is very simply baked with a little oil, sea salt and pepper. The oomph comes from the 3 different mushrooms that are an absolute knockout of deep, rich, sumptuously earthy flavors.

IMG_4937

Roasted Sea bass with wild mushrooms

ROASTED SEA BASS WITH WILD MUSHROOMS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for fish
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 small red onion, halved through the root end and sliced thin
  • 1 pound portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, halved
  • Salt
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless fillets Chilean sea bass, each about 1 1/2 inches thick (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 small lemon, cut into wedges

DIRECTIONS

Mix the dried porcini mushrooms with 1/2 cup hot tap water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, cut several steam vents in the plastic wrap with a paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until the mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes.
Lift the mushrooms from the liquid with a fork and mince. Pour the liquid through a small strainer lined with a single sheet of paper towel and placed over a measuring cup.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees.
Heat the butter, olive oil, and rosemary in an ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides. Add the onion, fresh mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have shed their liquid and their cut surfaces have browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and minced porcini. Cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Remove the pan from the heat and season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.
Using a wooden spoon, clear 4 spaces in the skillet for the fish fillets. (The spaces should be equidistant from one another so that the fillets don’t touch.) Rub each fillet with enough oil to coat lightly and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper to taste.
Nestle one fillet into each space in the skillet. Drizzle the reserved porcini liquid over the mushrooms (avoiding the fish) and immediately set the pan in the oven.
Cook until the fish is opaque and cooked through, 11 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness.
Sprinkle with the parsley.
Divide the mushrooms among individual plates and place a piece of fish on top of the mushrooms on each plate. Drizzle the fish with any juices remaining in the pan as well as a little olive oil. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

BONUS RECIPE

Remember when I told you to throw away your Banana bread recipe for the one I’ve been making for 20 years? Well, now it’s time to throw that one away too! This has got to be the most banana-ry Banana bread ever – and it’s really rather dashing and statuesque too.

IMG_4963

The Ultimate Banana Bread

THE ULTIMATE BANANA BREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ¾ cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled (see note)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

DIRECTIONS

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.

Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have ½ to ¾ cup liquid).

Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1½-inch-wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Stay safe. Stay sane, and most importantly – stay at home!

 

 

My favorite quarantine recipes Part X

IMG_4906

Shrimp Cocktail

70 dishes in 70 days. As the lock-down persists so does my challenge to never cook the same recipe twice. So far – so delicious. Why stop now?

 

SUNDAY

Just like certain songs that remind me of summer, the Heart of Palm and Peach salad is one of my own creations that conjures up the same sentiments of long, hot days that drag on for weeks. The contrast of sweet, pungent, soft and crunchy are as mesmerizingly seductive as floating around a pool on an inflatable lounger for 3 hours.

IMG_4819

Hearts of Palm and Peach Salad

HEARTS OF PALM AND PEACH SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tin hearts of palm sliced into short thin sections
  • 1 large fresh yellow peach sliced very thinly
  • Mixed greens
  • Candied walnuts
  • Crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • Balsamic vinaigrette with Walnut oil

DIRECTIONS

Mix all ingredients together and serve immediately. Serves 4.

 

MONDAY

The Spicy Mango Pork with Noodles is a relative newbie to my collection, but it was love at first bite. Nothing like pairing up mango with Serrano chilies. I mean, please!

IMG_4831

Spicy Mango Pork with Noodles

SPICY MANGO PORK WITH NOODLES

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest plus 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons peeled fresh ginger cut into matchsticks, divided
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons thinly sliced serrano chile
  • 3 mangoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch-thick spears
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 8 ounces uncooked thin rice noodles or vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
  • Thinly sliced scallions and pickled cucumber slices, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Toss together pork, cumin, salt, lime zest and juice, garlic, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon ginger in a medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large skillet over high. Working in 2 batches, add pork; cook until browned on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Wipe skillet clean; reduce heat to medium. Add mustard seeds and remaining 1 tablespoon oil; cook, undisturbed, until small bubbles appear on surface of seeds, about 30 seconds. Add onion and chile; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mango and remaining ginger; cook, stirring gently, until mango is just tender, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to plate with pork.

Return 1 cup mango mixture to skillet; add 1 cup hot water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high; cook, smashing fruit using back of a wooden spoon, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Return remaining mango mixture and pork to skillet. Cook, stirring often, until pork is fully coated with mango mixture.

Serve pork mixture over noodles; garnish with scallions and pickled cucumber. Serves 4.

 

TUESDAY

I love salads but there are very few I actually pine for through the winter. Panzanella is probably number one on the list. It is my default, go-to “can I bring a salad?” salad, and when you try it – it will become yours too.

IMG_4859

Panzanella Salad

PANZANELLA SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ¼ pounds very ripe tomatoes; a mix of varieties and colors is nice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste
  • 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 6-inch length of ciabatta or baguette (about 4 ounces), preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  • Chopped fresh basil, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Cut tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Using a large chef’s knife, mince 1 of the smashed garlic cloves. Add a pinch of salt and using the flat side of your knife, smash into a fine paste. Add garlic paste to the tomatoes along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat and set aside in a colander to drip off the juice for at least an hour.
In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in 3 tablespoons olive oil until the mixture is thickened.
In a 10-inch skillet over high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, bread cubes, the remaining smashed garlic clove, 1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1 sprig of fresh oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Cook while stirring occasionally until toasted and golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely. When cool, discard the garlic and thyme and add bread cubes to the tomato mixture. Add the leaves of the remaining uncooked thyme or oregano, and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter or individual plates and serve garnished with the chopped basil, and freshly ground black pepper. Serves 4.

 

WEDNESDAY

What to do with leftover peaches and tomatoes? Throw them in a bowl with mint, shallots and a tangy lemon vinaigrette and say: “Oh, this old thing? It was nothing.”

IMG_4902

Peach and Tomato Salad

PEACH AND TOMATO SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges, and wedges halved crosswise
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice
  • 1 pound ripe peaches, halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges, and wedges halved crosswise
  • 1 shallot, sliced into thin rings
  • ⅓ cup fresh mint leaves, torn

DIRECTIONS

Perfectly ripe peaches and tomatoes are essential to this recipe.

Combine tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt in bowl and toss to coat; transfer to colander and let drain in sink for 30 minutes.

Whisk oil, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add peaches, shallot, and drained tomatoes to dressing and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to platter and sprinkle with mint. Drizzle with extra oil. Serves 4.

 

THURSDAY

So, this Lamb with Fig Balsamic glaze might be the only serious recipe for the week but it’s not just tall, dark and handsome, it has some pretty deep, rich Tuscan flavors that are beyond restaurant quality. Don’t skimp on the fig Balsamic. It’s the difference between good and great Scott.

IMG_4864

Rack of Lamb with Fig Balsamic Glaze

RACK OF LAMB WITH FIG BALSAMIC GLAZE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Racks of Lamb well trimmed.
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil, separated
  • Salt & Cracked pepper
  • 2 – 3 Tbspn chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup Fig Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups good quality beef stock
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/3 cup dried mission figs, halved lengthwise
  • 6-8 Tbspn unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 Tbspn chopped parsely
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place 15 – 18 cloves of peeled garlic in a small oven safe dish. Drizzle with 2 – 3 Tbsn olive oil and 1/2 cup water and roast in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Cool, drain and set aside.
Season the lamb racks well with salt and pepper and rosemary.
Heat 1 tblspn oil in a skillet and sear the lamb 2 – 3 minutes per side. (Lamb can be done ahead to this point.)
Transfer the lamb to a rimmed baking sheet and reserve the pan for the sauce. Roast lamb in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Degrease the searing pan, add shallots and cook 1 minute. Add vinegar and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce liquid until 3/4 cup remains. Remove from the heat and add garlic, figs and butter 1 Tbspn at a time until the sauce is thick and creamy. Adjust seasoning and add parsely, Serve over lamb chops.

 

FRIDAY

If you have a slow-cooker (and a ton of time), this Pork Ramen gets you as close to Tokyo’s Ramen alley that COVID travel will currently permit.

IMG_4868

Slow cooker Miso-Pork Ramen

SLOW COOKER MISO-PORK RAMEN

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp white vinegar
  • 3/8 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup soy
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white miso
  • 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts separated, green parts sliced thin on bias
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 (1½-inch) piece ginger, peeled and sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds
  • 1/2 (2½-pound) boneless pork butt roast, trimmed
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 (4-inch) square piece kombu (optional)
  • 3 (3-ounce) packages ramen noodles, seasoning packets reserved for another use
  • Furikake and Chili oil for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Bring enough water to cover the 6 eggs to boil in a small saucepan. Add the baking soda and vinegar. Carefully lower the eggs and let them boil for 6 1/2 minutes. Meanwhile prepare an ice-bath. Plunge the eggs into the ice bath for at least 5 minutes until cool. Peel the eggs and then place them into a Zip-lock bag inside of a bowl. Add the mirin and soy and cinch the bag so that all 6 eggs are fully submerged. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Whisk broth and miso together in slow cooker. Add mushrooms, scallion whites, garlic, and ginger. Sprinkle pork with pepper and transfer to slow cooker. Cover and cook until pork is tender and registers 195 degrees, 4 to 6 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low. Transfer pork to cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add kombu, if using, to broth mixture in slow cooker and cook, covered, on high for 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove and discard scallion whites, garlic, ginger, and kombu, leaving mushrooms in slow cooker.

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add noodles and cook until tender but still chewy. Drain noodles and divide evenly among serving bowls. Slice pork in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise ¼ inch thick. Ladle broth into bowls. Serve ramen topped with 3 or 4 slices of pork and scallion greens. Halve the eggs and lay two halves into each bowl. Serve furikake and chili oil on the side. Serves 4.

 

SATURDAY

What happens when Chinese Spring roll season runs out? Vietnamese Summer roll rolls in. This mostly raw, crunchy and oil-free cousin is as flavorful as it’s pretty – and with two sauces, it’s a party in every bite.

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Vietnamese Summer Rolls

VIETNAMESE SUMMER ROLLS

INGREDIENTS

For the lime dressing:

  • 5 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoon sugar

For the Peanut-Hoisin dipping Sauce:

  • 1 Thai chile, stemmed and sliced thin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup water
  • ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

For the summer rolls:

  • 3 ounces dried rice noodles
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • ⅓ cup coarsely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 medium daikon radish, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 8 round rice paper wrappers (8 inches in diameter)
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup bean sprouts
  • ½ pound cooked medium shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), chilled and sliced in half lengthwise

DIRECTIONS

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Remove the boiling water from the heat, add the rice noodles, and let stand, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the noodles and transfer them to a medium bowl.

Whisk the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar together in small bowl until the sugar dissolves. Toss 2 tablespoons of the lime juice mixture with the noodles. In a medium bowl, toss 1 more tablespoon of the lime juice mixture with the carrots, peanuts, radishes, bean sprouts and cucumbers. Save the remainder of the lime juice mixture for dipping.

Using a chef knife, mash Thai chile, garlic, and salt to fine paste. Transfer to medium bowl. Add water, peanut butter, hoisin, tomato paste, and vinegar and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Use a large, flat dinner plate to work on. Fill a 9-inch pie plate with 1 inch of room temperature water. Working with one rice paper wrapper at a time, immerse each wrapper in water until just pliable, about 2 minutes, then lay the softened wrapper on the dinner plate.

Arrange a few cucumber, radish and carrot sticks horizontally at one edge of the wrapper into a small bundle. Add a few noodles and about 3 leaves of each herb. Then fold the wrapper over the bundle securing the ingredients inside. Fold it over once more and then bend in the two sides and lay 3 shrimp halves at the next fold of the wrapper thereby scooping them up in the final fold. Set aside and cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve. Rolls should not be kept waiting for more than 20 minutes. Serve with the remaining lime juice dressing and peanut dipping sauce. Serves 4.

Of all of Italy’s greatest meals, Affogato is probably their greatest fanfare to the end of a meal. It’s ridiculously simple, outrageously flavorful and sinfully more-ish.

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Affogato with Vanilla ice-cream and Nuts

AFFOGATO WITH VANILLA ICE-CREAM AND NUTS

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup raw pistachios or blanched hazelnuts
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 8 tablespoons hot espresso or strongly brewed coffee

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°. Toast nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

Mix cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl.

Divide ice cream among 4 small serving bowls or coffee cups. Sprinkle spice mixture over and pour 2 Tbsp. espresso into each bowl. Top with nuts. Serve immediately.

 

Stay safe. Stay sane, and most importantly – stay at home!

 

My favorite quarantine recipes Part IX

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Heart of palm, peach and Gorgonzola salad

Ninth week in lockdown and even though there’s still no sign of life in any of New York’s 18,000 restaurants, my kitchen hasn’t stopped cranking them out like a hand sanitizer factory. At this point I’d like to say a little prayer: “Dear God, please bless my dishwasher and make sure it never stops running. Amen.”

 

SUNDAY

I will never dispute the fact that browning meat is one of the most crucial flavor-forming processes in any braised dish. But browning is also a time-consuming ritual that usually ends up in oil-smeared cabinets, floors, light fittings and counter-tops. I not only adore the rich, dark and wonderfully Asian flavors of this Braised Short-rib, but there’s no browning required. Eat your heart out. Literally.

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Chinese Braised Beef

CHINESE BRAISED BEEF

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts separated, green parts sliced thin on bias, white parts sliced into 2″ pieces
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled, halved lengthwise, and smashed
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 pounds boneless chuck short ribs, trimmed of fat and cut into 4-inch lengths. Do not slice into smaller chunks. That happens later on)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

DIRECTIONS

Sprinkle gelatin over 2 1/2 cups water in Dutch oven and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. (Unless using a slow cooker.)

Heat softened gelatin over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in sherry, soy sauce, hoisin, molasses, scallion whites, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, and pepper flakes. Stir in beef and bring to simmer. Remove pot from heat. Cover tightly with sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, then lid. Transfer to oven and cook until beef is tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring halfway through cooking. (Alternatively you can use a slow-cooker on High heat for the same time duration.)

Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to cutting board. Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator. Wipe out pot with paper towels. Let liquid settle for 5 minutes, then return defatted liquid to now-empty pot. Cook liquid over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 1 cup, 20 to 25 minutes.

While sauce reduces, using 2 forks, break beef into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Whisk cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon water together in small bowl.

Reduce heat to medium-low, whisk cornstarch mixture into reduced sauce, and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Return beef to sauce and stir to coat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is heated through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle scallion greens over top. Serves 4.

 

MONDAY

This week kicked off with Memorial Day, and so I had to figure out an indoors-outdoors recipe to make it feel a bit more like the holiday it normally is. And while a stove-top burger might be as taboo as ice-cream in winter, when you grind your own short-rib, bake your own brioche buns and mix your own special sauce, it’s the real deal.

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Short-rib Cheeseburger with Waldorf Salad

SHORT RIB CHEESEBURGER

For the burger:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1lb boneless short-rib
  • 1 tblspn cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • American or Swiss cheese slices
  • Brioche sesame bun
  • Pickles, lettuce, tomato etc.

DIRECTIONS

Grind the short-rib and bring it to room temperature. Divide the mixture and shape it very loosely into balls. Do not be tempted to press them into patties or compact them too much. You want to keep them fairly loose. Heat a cast-iron skillet on Medium-high until it is almost smoking. Add the oil and when the oil is hot add the meatballs, gently pressing them down into patties. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook without disturbing them for 3 minutes. Flip them and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and drape a square of cheese over each patty and cover. Turn off the heat and let the cheese melt for another 2 minutes. Serves 2.

For the Sauce:

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tblspn soy sauce
  • 1 tblspn dark brown sugar
  • 1 tblspn Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tblspn chives, minced
  • 3/4 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS

Whist all ingredients together and refrigerate until needed. Serves 6.

 

TUESDAY

There are probably a zillion recipes for glazed pork chops, but this one involves a breading batter, which is every bit as simple as it is delicious.

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Honey garlic pork chops

HONEY GARLIC PORK CHOPS

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Center loin pork chops, well trimmed
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Black pepper
  • 1½ tbsp Ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • ½ tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • For the Honey Garlic Sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 – 4 Cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup Honey
  • ¼ cup Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan add the 2 tbsp olive oil and minced garlic. Cook over medium heat to soften the garlic but do not let it brown.
Add the honey, soy sauce and black pepper.
Simmer together for 5-10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Sift together the flour, salt, black pepper, ground ginger, nutmeg, paprika and cayenne pepper.
Make an egg wash by whisking together the eggs and water.
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, then dip the meat in the flour and spice mixture.
Dip the chop into the eggwash and then a final time into the flour and spice mix, pressing the mix into the meat to get good contact.

Heat a skillet on the stove with about a half inch of canola oil covering the bottom. You will want to carefully regulate the temperature here so that the chops does not brown too quickly.
Fry them gently for about 4 or 5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.
Drain on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before dipping the cooked pork chops into the Honey Garlic Sauce.
Serve immediately. Serves 4.

 

WEDNESDAY

As the weather heats up and the days get longer, you’re going to start seeing more and more salad-y dinners on my lists. I generally don’t start cooking until after the 7pm first responders “clap”, but when the sun only sets after 8:30pm, I don’t want us to be doing major dishes at 10pm. Know what I mean? This is a delightful room-temperature salad and the shrimp can be easily substituted with cooked salmon.

IMG_4789

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad

ROASTED SHRIMP AND ORZO SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • Kosher salt
  • Good olive oil
  • 3/8 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined, (can be substituted with cooked salmon)
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
  • 1/4 cup small-diced red onion
  • 3/8 pound good feta cheese, large diced

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don’t overcook!

Add the shrimp (or shredded cooked salmon) to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving. Serves 4.

 

THURSDAY

You can never have too many cucumbers, but if you do, here are two amazing cucumber salads.  A few weeks ago, I shared my Chicken Satay recipe. This is a heat-free, meat-free variation that uses a very similar peanut sauce – but with the fresh crispness of Persian cucumbers.

IMG_4780

Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

CUCUMBER SALAD WITH PEANUTS

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Persian cucumbers (about 1 pound), cut lengthwise into thin spears, then cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup salted, roasted peanuts
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves (mint can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • Chile oil, store-bought or homemade, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Toss cucumbers with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a colander. Set aside to drain. Chop peanuts, cilantro (or mint) and red-pepper flakes together until very fine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Add up to 1 tablespoon water, if needed to thin mixture. Transfer salted cucumbers to the bowl with dressing and toss to coat.

To serve, place half the cucumber salad on the plate, sprinkle with half the peanut mixture. Repeat with the remaining cucumber salad and peanut mixture. Drizzle with chile oil, if using, and serve immediately. Serves 4.

 

And I ate something very similar to this one in Greece a few years ago. It’s a heavenly combination of sweet, sour and surprising. (And it has show-stopping good looks too.)

IMG_4807

Strawberry cucumber Salad

STRAWBERRY CUCUMBER SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 punnet rinsed and thinly sliced Strawberries
  • 1 cucumber sliced into discs.
  • 2 tblspns roughly chopped hazelnuts
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Arrange the strawberry and cucumber slices in concentric circles in a round, shallow dish. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts, balsamic vinegar and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

 

FRIDAY

OK, confession time. I’m not a great baker. There, I said it. Mostly because you have to be so darn accurate, and also because it’s more about chemistry than alchemy. Whatever. But this week we were inspired to bake the world’s most foolproof Challah ever. It’s another America’s Test Kitchen offering that…just…works. It turned out to be a whole lot larger than we were expecting, but it is a profoundly majestic, statuesque, mahogany work of art with a soft, fluffy, sweet and nostalgia-filled inside. (It also made for an amazing French toast on Sunday. See below)

IMG_4799

Easy braid Challah

EASY-BRAID CHALLAH

INGREDIENTS

For the Flour Paste:

  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons bread flour

For the Dough:

  • 1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 ¾ cups (15⅛ ounces) bread flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • ¼ cup (1¾ ounces) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • Vegetable oil spray

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds or poppy seeds (optional)

DIRECTIONS

For the flour paste: Whisk water and flour in bowl until no lumps remain. Microwave, whisking every 20 seconds, until mixture thickens to stiff, smooth, pudding-like consistency that forms mound when dropped from end of whisk into bowl, 40 to 80 seconds.

For the dough: In bowl of stand mixer, whisk flour paste, egg and yolks, water, and oil until well combined. Add flour and yeast. Fit mixer with dough hook and mix on low speed until all flour is moistened, 3 to 4 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Add sugar and salt and mix on medium speed for 9 minutes (dough will be quite firm and dry). Transfer dough to counter and lightly spray now-empty mixer bowl with oil spray. Knead dough briefly to form ball and return it to prepared bowl. Lightly spray dough with oil spray and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise until about doubled in volume, about 1½ hours.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and nest in second rimmed baking sheet. Transfer dough to counter and press into 8-inch square, expelling as much air as possible. Cut dough in half lengthwise to form 2 rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half lengthwise to form 4 equal strips of dough. Roll 1 strip of dough into 16-inch rope. Continue rolling, tapering ends, until rope is 18 inches long. Repeat with remaining dough strips. Arrange ropes in plus-sign shape, with 4 ends overlapping in center by ½ inch. Firmly press center of cross into counter to seal ropes to each other and to counter.

Lift rope at 12 o’clock, bring over center, and place in 5 o’clock position. Lift rope at 6 o’clock, bring over center, and place in 12 o’clock position.

Lift rope at 9 o’clock, bring over center, and place in 4 o’clock position. Lift rope at 3 o’clock and, working toward yourself, bring over braid and place in 8 o’clock position. Adjust ropes so they are at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions.

Repeat steps 5 and 6, working toward yourself, until you can no longer braid. Loaf will naturally list to 1 side.

Pinch ends of ropes together and tuck both ends under braid. Carefully transfer braid to prepared sheets. Cover loosely with plastic and let rise until dough does not spring back fully when gently pressed with your knuckle, about 3 hours.

For the egg wash: Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together egg and salt. Brush loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake until loaf is deep golden brown and registers at least 195 degrees, 30 – 35 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 20 minutes. Transfer loaf to wire rack and let cool completely before slicing, about 2 hours. Serves 10.

SATURDAY

I happen to think that the only thing more wonderful than pairing fish with Green-goddess dressing is when you can blister the skin into a crunchy crisp. You can use practically any red or white fish here, but after making eye contact with a handsome Red Snapper, all I could think of was: “Get in my belly!”

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Crispy skinned Fish with green goddess

CRISPY SKINNED FISH WITH GREEN GODDESS

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 (6-ounce) skin-on meaty whitefish fillets (such as striped bass, redfish, rockfish, or snapper), patted dry with paper towels
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped scallion greens
  • 1/4 cup watercress
  • 1/2 cup packed mixed fresh herb leaves (such as flat-leaf parsley, chervil, tarragon, cilantro, and/or dill), divided
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 jarred anchovy fillets, drained
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon grapeseed oil, as needed, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, as needed
  • 1 large head Little Gem lettuce, outer leaves separated, heads halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, papery skins removed and nuts roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS

Place fish fillets, skin sides up, on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours or overnight.

Process scallion greens, watercress, 1/4 cup fresh herbs, mayonnaise, sour cream, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon water, anchovies, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth, about 30 seconds. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in lowest position. Season both sides of fillets with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high until a wisp of smoke forms.

Lay 1 fillet, skin side down, in skillet, and immediately press down on fillet evenly and with firm pressure using a stiff spatula; press 30 seconds. Check the skin by gently lifting a corner of the fillet; if it needs a little more time to begin lightly browning around the edges, cook an additional 15 seconds. Add the second fillet and repeat. Transfer skillet to lowest rack of preheated oven; cook according to fillet thickness, about 8 minutes per inch. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium. Add lettuce and 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet; cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add broth; cook, tossing occasionally, until lettuce is tender, 2 to 4 minutes.

Spread dressing evenly on 2 plates. Top evenly with braised lettuce, fish fillets, hazelnuts, and remaining fresh herbs. Drizzle fish with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

 

SUNDAY

When I asked one of my dear friends from Oklahoma if she’d ever eaten French cuisine before, she giggled a little, looked at me oddly and then replied, “Why, of course. French fries. French toast. I love French food!” But seriously, if you’re one of those people who thinks that French toast is just bread dipped into beaten egg and fried in butter, then please prepare your mind to be blown.

IMG_4818

Deluxe French toast

DELUXE FRENCH TOAST

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for frying
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 4 slices day-old challah bread (3/4-inch-thick) or 6 slices day-old sandwich bread

DIRECTIONS

Heat 10- to 12-inch skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, using a hand-mixer, beat egg lightly in a bowl. Whisk in butter, then milk and vanilla, and finally sugar, flour, and salt, continuing to whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture into a pie plate and soak bread without oversaturating, about 40 seconds per side for challah or 30 seconds per side for sandwich bread. Pick up bread and allow excess batter to drip off; repeat with remaining slices.

Swirl 1 tablespoon butter in hot skillet. Transfer 2 slices of the prepared bread to skillet; cook until golden brown, about 1 minute 45 seconds on first side and 1 minute on the second. Serve immediately. Continue, adding 1 tablespoon butter to skillet for each new batch. Serves 2.

Stay safe. Stay sane, but most importantly – stay at home!

 

 

My favorite quarantine recipes Part VIII

IMG_4733

Pretzel Rolls

In my 8th week of cooking at home without a single repetition, an old friend from junior school dared me to go vegetarian for a whole week. Challenge accepted. Dinner is served.

 

SUNDAY

Eating gnocchi is a lot like a water slide. They both go down easily and once you take the first plunge – you never want to stop. And while most menus predictably resort to a basil pesto as the perfect gnocchi partner, I prefer using asparagus for a refreshing twist. See if you agree.

IMG_4689

Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus Pesto

RICOTTA GNOCCHI

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs potatoes, boiled in their skins until tender
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup oil

DIRECTIONS

Allow the boiled potatoes to cool slightly, then peel and rice the potatoes. Spread the riced potatoes out on a sheet pan to cool completely.
In a mixing bowl, mix egg and ricotta together, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Place the cooled, riced potatoes into a separate bowl and add the egg ricotta mixture.
Gradually add the flour to the potato mixture, stopping when the dough is tender and pliable.
Working in sections, roll the gnocchi dough into a 1/2 inch thick rope on a lightly floured surface. Then cut into 1 inch pieces. Using the back of a floured dinner fork, place the right side of each gnocchi on the fork and roll down the fork to imprint the tines into the dough. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and working in batches with an ice bath on the side, blanch gnocchi till they float to the surface of the water. Remove from the pot and transfer into ice bath.
Once chilled (just) remove gnocchi from the ice bath and place a single layer on a sheet pan until all the gnocchi have been blanched.
Place a large sautee pan over medium heat. Add the oil and then add the gnocchi when the oil starts to ripple. Sautee gnocchi in batches, tossing to coat and allowing to brown.
Place a sheet pan and keep in a low oven until all the gnocchi have been sauteed. Serves 4.

ASPARAGUS PESTO

INGREDIENTS

  • Salt
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments
  • 1 clove garlic, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup olive oil, or more as desired
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste

DIRECTIONS

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the asparagus and cook until fully tender but not mushy, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and let the asparagus cool slightly.

Transfer the asparagus to a food processor and add the garlic, pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of the oil, Parmesan, a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and gradually add the remaining oil and a bit more of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste, pulse one last time, and serve over pasta, fish or chicken (or cover and refrigerate for up to a day).

 

MONDAY

If you’re an incurable Tapas enthusiast like me, you’re probably also a big fan of Patatas Bravas. Every time I eat them, I swear to myself that someday I’m going to make an entire meal of Spain’s crispiest potatoes with an infinite amount of those delectable yellow and orange sauces. And that’s exactly what happened this week.

IMG_4697

Patatas Bravas with Two Sauces

PATATAS BRAVAS WITH TWO SAUCES

INGREDIENTS

For the potatoes:

  • 2 pounds yellow-fleshed or russet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 tblspn Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled

For the Salsa Brava:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon pimentón dulce, (or use sweet paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon pimentón picante, (or use 1/4 tsp cayenne)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • Kosher salt

For the Allioli:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put potato chunks in a large bowl, season with salt and toss to coat. Leave for a few minutes to let potatoes absorb salt. Add olive oil and unpeeled garlic cloves and toss to coat well.

Transfer potatoes, garlic cloves and oil to a large cast-iron skillet or heavy roasting pan. Make sure to have potatoes in a single layer without crowding. (If necessary, use two pans.) There should be a good 1/4-inch oil in the bottom of the pan. Add more if required.

Place pan in oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or until potato chunks are well browned on the bottom. With a metal spatula, turn chunks over. Reduce heat to 400 degrees, and continue roasting until potatoes are well browned and crisp, about another 25 to 30 minutes.

While potatoes are roasting, make the two sauces: For the salsa brava, put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and let sizzle without browning, then stir in flour and let mixture sizzle. Stir in tomato paste, pimentón dulce and pimentón picante, then add chicken broth gradually, stirring well as the sauce thickens. Bring to a gentle simmer, add vinegar and cook for 5 minutes until the sauce has a gravylike consistency, but isn’t too thick. Thin with a little more broth or water, if necessary. Season with salt to taste.

For the allioli, whisk egg yolk and garlic together in a small bowl. Add oil a few drops at a time, whisking vigorously with each addition. As the sauce thickens, add olive oil a teaspoon at a time. If the aioli gets too thick, whisk in 1 tablespoon water, then continue to whisk in remaining oil. The finished sauce should have the consistency of softly whipped cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When potatoes are ready, use spatula to transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to blot, then to a warm serving dish. Serve warm with the two sauces. Serves 2.

TUESDAY

I was going to make a Ratatouille, but that would have been far too predictable. So instead I made this Summer Squash Gratin which might look cute and cuddly, but thanks to the Gruyere and leeks, has a honkin’ blast of flavor you don’t see coming.

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Summer Squash Gratin

SUMMER SQUASH GRATIN

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 small leeks (1/2 pound), white and tender green parts thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices, preferably on a mandolin
  • 3 medium yellow summer squash, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices, preferably on a mandolin
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup finely shredded Gruyère (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 plum tomato, very thinly sliced crosswise
  • Flaky sea salt and crusty bread, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425°.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over moderately high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes. Spread in a 9-inch round baking dish

Meanwhile, on 2 large baking sheets, spread the zucchini and yellow squash and brush with the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the cheese and let sit until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

Tightly roll 1 piece of zucchini and set it on the leeks in the center of the dish. Working outward from that center slice, continue rolling and coiling additional pieces of zucchini and yellow squash until you reach the edge of the baking dish. Season the tomato slices with salt and pepper, then tuck in intervals between the zucchini and squash. Scrape any cheese off of the baking sheets and sprinkle on top.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the zucchini and squash are tender and browned in spots. Sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool slightly, then serve with crusty bread. Serves 4.

WEDNESDAY

Chances are you’ve eaten a whole-roasted cauliflower at a restaurant many times before, but cooking it at home is a good and bad news story: The good news is that it’s as delicious as it looks with a crispy crust and a heart of gold, but the bad news is that your oven will need to undergo a major top-to-bottom spring cleaning session immediately thereafter. (Um…thanks to the anchovies, this sauce is vegetarian adjacent, but if you’re a purist, you can use pretty much anything from Green goddess to Romesco.)

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower

WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

INGREDIENTS

For the cauliflower:

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

For the sauce:

  • ⅓ cup blanched almonds
  • 6 to 10 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for basting
  • 2 teaspoons wine vinegar (white or red), more to taste
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped parsley, mint, tarragon, cilantro or a combination
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven while you prepare the cauliflower: Place a heavy oven-proof skillet or a baking sheet in the oven and turn the heat to 375 degrees. Place a small pan of hot water on the floor of the oven, to create steam.

Break off and discard the outer leaves from the cauliflower. Cut off the bottom of the stem, and then use the tip of a small, sharp knife to cut off the leaves close to the stem. Carefully cut out the hard core of the cauliflower, near the bottom. Leave the main stem intact and make sure not to cut through any of the florets.

Rinse the cauliflower (leave the water clinging to the outside) and place on a work surface, core side up. Drizzle with olive oil and use your hands to rub over the cauliflower until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt.

Place the cauliflower on the hot pan in the oven, core side down, and cook until very tender all the way through when pierced with a knife, at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours. During the cooking, baste 2 or 3 times with more olive oil. It should brown nicely. If you have a convection feature, use it toward the end of baking to brown the crust.

Make the sauce: In a small frying pan, toast nuts over low heat, shaking often, just until golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Soak anchovies, if using, for 5 minutes in cool water. Rinse and set aside on paper towels.

In a food processor, combine almonds, anchovies, garlic and butter and pulse until smooth. Mix in oil, then vinegar. Mix in herbs and red pepper flakes, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

When cauliflower is tender, remove from the oven. (If desired, run it briefly under the broiler first to brown the surface; there is no need to do this if you used convection.)

Serve cauliflower in the skillet or from a serving plate. Cut into wedges and spoon sauce around each wedge. Serves 2 – 4 depending on the size of the cauliflower.

THURSDAY

For several reasons I’d rather not get into, let’s just say that I have a “hot” kitchen. And so, when the weather heats up I tend to opt for room temperature dishes to stay cool. This hugely popular wheatberry salad is a great side-dish or an awesome meal on its own.

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Wheatberry Salad with Roasted Squash

WHEATBERRY SALAD WITH ROASTED SQUASH

INGREDIENTS

For the Squash:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, more as needed
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 3 pounds winter squash, such as kabocha, carnival or butternut, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (leave the peels on or remove as desired)

For the Wheatberries:

  • 1 ½ cups winter wheatberries
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
  • 2 cups water, more if required.

For the Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, more to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare the squash: In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, sugar, cinnamon, salt, pepper and cayenne. Add squash and toss well to coat with the spiced oil. Lay the squash pieces out flat on a rimmed baking sheet.

Roast squash until the bottoms are golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully turn the pieces over and continue to roast until tender, another 10 to 20 minutes.

Add the Wheatberries, salt and water to a saucepan and bring to a solid simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes, until the berries are soft but still chewy. Strain and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, garlic and pepper. Whisk in olive oil. Add the cooked wheatberries and toss well, adding more oil or salt, or both, if needed.

To serve, spoon the wheatberries on a platter and top with the squash, feta, mint and a drizzle of olive oil. Serves 4.

FRIDAY

If you scroll down a few blogs, you will see that I took a street food tour of Palermo a few months ago. But my very first meal in Sicily was pasta alla Norma. I’ll never forget the medley of flavors that were so much more than the sum of their simple parts. If you can’t find Ricotta Salata, you can always substitute with a hard feta.

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Pasta alla Norma

PASTA ALLA NORMA

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large eggplant (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, mined or pressed through garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound ziti, rigatoni, or penne
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ounces ricotta salata, shredded (a hard feta is a good substitute)

DIRECTIONS

Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Line surface of large microwave-safe plate with double layer of coffee filters and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spread eggplant in an even layer over coffee filters; wipe out and reserve the bowl. Microwave eggplant on high power, uncovered, until dry to touch and slightly shriveled, about 10 minutes, tossing once halfway through to ensure that eggplant cooks evenly. Let cool slightly.

Transfer eggplant to now-empty bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and toss gently to coat; discard coffee filters and reserve plate. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add eggplant and distribute in even layer. Cook, stirring or tossing every 1½ to 2 minutes (more frequent stirring may cause eggplant pieces to break apart), until well browned and fully tender, about 10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer eggplant to now-empty plate and set aside.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, anchovies, and pepper flakes to now-empty but still-hot skillet and cook using residual heat so garlic doesn’t burn, stirring constantly, until fragrant and garlic becomes pale golden, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, return skillet to burner over medium-high heat, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil. Add pasta and 2 tablespoons salt and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.

While pasta is cooking, return eggplant to skillet with tomatoes and gently stir to incorporate. Bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring gently occasionally, until eggplant is heated through and flavors are blended, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir basil and extra-virgin olive oil into sauce; season to taste with salt. Add sauce to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta cooking water so that sauce coats pasta. Serve immediately, sprinkled with ricotta salata. Serves 4.

SATURDAY

In week IV, I bragged about how little stirring my sausage and pepper risotto required. This week I went all-in for the real deal. If you love the taste of sweet corn in spring, you’re going to love this immensely creamy, crunchy and surprisingly hearty dish.

IMG_4730

Corn Risotto

CORN RISOTTO

INGREDIENTS

For the Stock:

  • 2 corn cobs (kernels removed and reserved for risotto)
  • 1 onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 celery rib, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • Dark green leaves from 1 leek (reserve white and light green parts for risotto)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

For the Risotto:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ cups raw corn kernels (from about 2 ears corn)
  • 1/4 tsp saffron, crumbled
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives (optional)

DIRECTIONS

For the stock:
Combine all ingredients with 6 cups water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat so liquid is simmering; cover pot and let simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Add enough water to bring liquid back up to 6 cups.

For the Risotto:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a wide, high-sided sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add rice and cook, stirring, until grains look slightly translucent.

Pour in wine and cook, stirring, until it has all been absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Add a ladle of hot corn stock to the rice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until rice has absorbed all of the stock. Continue cooking, adding ladles of stock whenever rice mixture looks dry and stirring continuously. When half the stock has been added, stir in corn and the saffron. Continue cooking until all of the stock is incorporated, corn is tender and rice is creamy and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes total.

Remove risotto from heat and stir in Parmesan and remaining tablespoon of butter. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Uncover risotto, stir vigorously and season to taste with salt and pepper. Immediately before serving, stir in the chives. Serves 4.

SUNDAY

I improvised this dish from a little bistro in Montreal who must have had a surplus of goat cheese the week I was there, as every egg dish on their Sunday breakfast menu was paired with goat cheese. But hey, if it works…

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Poached Pesto Eggs

POACHED PESTO EGGS

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/3 cup plain goat cheese
  • 1 tblspn butter
  • 1 tblspn prepared pesto, plus extra for garnish
  • 4 slices brown bread
  • baby lettuce leaves
  • white vinegar

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl mash the goat cheese, butter and pesto into a well combined, smooth paste. Do not be tempted to add more pesto as it will kill the taste of the cheese.
Toast the bread. Spread the cheese mixture on the toasts. Layer a few baby greens over the cheese. Bring a deep pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a few splashes of white vinegar and poach the eggs for 2 – 4 minutes.
Layer 2 eggs onto each slice of toast and add a dot of pesto onto each egg. Serves 4.

Stay safe. Stay sane, but most importantly – stay at home!

 

 

 

 

My favorite quarantine recipes Part VII

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Banana Bread

Week 7? That’s it? I’m just getting started over here! Say hello to a bunch of keeper recipes making their 2020 reprises. Here’s how this works: if we both like a new dish, it gets labeled a “keeper”. But if we find it a bit “meh”, we never mention it again.

 

SUNDAY

There are 2 fundamental issues with turkey meatloaf: it’s either too dry or too dry. This recipe uses rolled oats (yes, you read that correctly) which helps keep it moist and fluffy, and I took the liberty of doubling the tomato glaze ingredients, and so as God is your witness, you’ll never have to endure a dry loaf again.

IMG_4635

Turkey Meatloaf

TURKEY MEATLOAF

INGREDIENTS

For the Meatloaf:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch baking soda
  • ½ onion, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons quick oats
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 pounds 85 or 93 percent lean ground turkey
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tblspn cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce

DIRECTIONS

Do not use 99 percent lean ground turkey in this recipe; it will make a dry meatloaf. Three tablespoons of rolled oats, chopped fine, can be substituted for the quick oats; do not use steel-cut oats.

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line wire rack with aluminum foil and set in rimmed baking sheet. Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over low heat. Stir baking soda into melted butter. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in Worcestershire and continue to cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute longer. Transfer onion mixture to large bowl and set aside. Combine oats, cornstarch, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in second bowl.

Whisk all the glaze ingredients in saucepan until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes; set aside.

Stir egg yolks and mustard into cooled onion mixture until well combined. Add turkey, Parmesan, parsley, and oat mixture; using your hands, mix until well combined. Transfer turkey mixture to center of prepared rack. Using your wet hands, shape into 9 by 5-inch loaf. Using pastry brush, spread half of glaze evenly over top and sides of meatloaf. Bake meatloaf for 40 minutes.

Brush remaining glaze onto top and sides of meatloaf and continue to bake until meatloaf registers 160 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes longer. Let meatloaf cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Serves 6.

 

MONDAY

If you asked anyone what their favorite Peruvian dish was, they’d either say Ceviche or Lomo Saltado. Actually, to be fair, there are several dozen famous Peruvian specialties, but Lomo Saltado is without question the most popular standout. And this version (which is my own concoction) consists a stir fry of tender Beef filet chunks amid a drop-dead delectably dark and rich saucy sauce. I prefer my crispy French fries on top rather than mixing them in and getting them all soggy, but that’s up to the eater. Oh, and in case you’re wondering – the crema is literally the cream on top!

IMG_4640

Lomo Saltado

LOMO SALTADO

INGREDIENTS

For the Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 tsps cumin
  • 2 tsps ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup beef au jus, or hearty beef stock
  • 2 tblspn rice vinegar
  • 3 tblspn sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 2 tblspn oyster sauce
  • For the Stir-Fry:
  • 1 – 2 tblspn canola oil
  • 1 1/2lb beef tenderloin steak, cut into bite-sized chunks.
  • 1 red onion, cut into strips lengthwise
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 – 2 jalapeno peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 red bell pepper cut into strips
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • French fries

For the Crema:

  • 3 tblspn mayonaise
  • 2 tsps lemon juice
  • 2 tsps Chili paste (such as Shriracha)

DIRECTIONS

Season the steak with salt and pepper.
Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
Blend the crema ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate while cooking the rest of the meal.
Pour a small amount of oil in a wok & turn on medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the steak & cook until brown. Set aside. Add the onions to the hot oil and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, jalapeño, peppers, cilantro, & marinade to the wok, slowly stirring until well blended. Simmer for 4 more minutes. Add back the steak and toss to heat through.
Serve in a large platter, top with hot french fries and scallions, and a drizzle of the topping sauce. Serves 4.

 

TUESDAY

The 2 reasons why so few people dare to make Pad Thai at home is because it all happens faster than the Kentucky Derby which requires flawless preparation, and you need a bunch of fairly specific ingredients. Thanks to the good people at America’s Test Kitchen who have come up with a recipe that not only works well and tastes amazing, but the only tricky-to-find ingredient on the list is Tamarind juice concentrate.

IMG_4644

Pad Thai

PAD THAI

INGREDIENTS

For the chile vinegar:

  • ⅓ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed and sliced into thin rings

For the Stir-Fry:

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • 2 radishes, trimmed and cut into matchsticks
  • 8oz rice noodles
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, separated
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind juice concentrate
  • 1 pound large shrimp peeled and deveined with tails attached
  • 4 scallions, white and light green parts minced, dark green parts cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 ounces (2 cups) bean sprouts
  • ¼ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped coarse
  • Lime wedges

DIRECTIONS

Combine vinegar and chile in bowl and let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

Combine 1/4 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon sugar in small bowl. Microwave until steaming, about 30 seconds. Add radishes and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Bring 6 cups water to boil. Place noodles in large bowl. Pour boiling water over noodles. Stir, then let soak until noodles are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through soaking. Drain noodles and soak in cold water. Drain noodles well, then toss with 2 teaspoons oil.

Combine fish sauce, tamarind concentrate, and 3 tablespoons sugar in bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Set sauce aside.

Remove tails from 4 shrimp. Cut shrimp in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss shrimp pieces with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon sugar. Arrange pieces in single layer on large plate and microwave at 50 percent power until shrimp are dried and have reduced in size by half, 4 to 5 minutes. (Check halfway through microwaving and separate any pieces that may have stuck together.)

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add dried shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add minced scallions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl with dried shrimp.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in now-empty skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add remaining whole shrimp and spread into even layer. Cook, without stirring, until shrimp turn opaque and brown around edges, 2 to 3 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. Push shrimp to sides of skillet. Add 2 teaspoons oil to center, then add eggs to center. Using rubber spatula, stir eggs gently and cook until set but still wet. Stir eggs into shrimp and continue to cook, breaking up large pieces of egg, until eggs are fully cooked, 30 to 60 seconds longer. Transfer shrimp-egg mixture to bowl with scallion-garlic mixture and dried shrimp.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in now-empty skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add noodles and sauce and toss with tongs to coat. Cook, stirring and tossing often, until noodles are tender and have absorbed sauce, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer noodles to bowl with shrimp mixture. Add 2 teaspoons chile vinegar, drained radishes, scallion greens, and bean sprouts and toss to combine.

Transfer to platter and sprinkle with peanuts. Serve immediately, passing lime wedges and remaining chile vinegar separately. Serves 2 – 3.

 

WEDNESDAY

There are a few locations in Manhattan where street food vendors have been shoveling chicken shawarma into tin-foil plates for hordes of midtown tie-wearers – who will gladly stand in line for most of their lunch breaks. I’m often tempted to join the line when I catch a whiff of the most drool-inducing middle-eastern flavors, but in the back of my mind I can’t get over the fact that it’s still…well…street meat. Below is literally the same recipe but made in safety of your own kitchen. (And you’ll notice that New York City pigeon poop and taxi cab exhaust are not on the ingredients list!)

IMG_4649

Chicken Shawarma

CHICKEN SHAWARMA

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • A pinch ground cinnamon
  • Red-pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into bite sized pieces.
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • To serve (all optional):
  • Pita bread
  • Tahina sauce
  • Hot Sauce
  • Olives
  • Chopped tomatoes and cucumbers
  • Feta

DIRECTIONS

1. Prepare a marinade for the chicken. Combine the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red-pepper flakes in a large bowl, then whisk to combine. Add the chicken, and toss well to coat. Cover, and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425. Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to grease a rimmed sheet pan. (Line with tin foil if desired). Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine. Remove the chicken from the marinade (leaving the onion behind), and place on the pan, spreading everything evenly across it.

3. Put the chicken in the oven, and roast for 10 minutes. Remove any liquid that might have been released. Add the onions and roast for another 10 – 15 minutes until the chicken is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes.
Scatter the parsley and remaining olive oil over the top and serve with tomatoes, cucumbers, pita, white sauce, hot sauce, olives, fried eggplant, feta, rice — really anything you desire. Serves 4.

 

THURSDAY

Remember last week’s 10-hour Marinara sauce? Well, I’m still summoning the left-overs for double duty – and in this case they became the most amazing tomato base for our home-made pizzas. (This was supposed to be veggie night, but something happened.)

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Home-made Pizza’s

HOME-MADE PIZZA’S

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour, plus more for work surface (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups ice water (about 10 1/2 ounces) (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for work surface
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • Any other toppings

DIRECTIONS

In food processor fitted with metal blade, process flour, sugar, and yeast until combined, about 2 seconds. With machine running, slowly add water through feed tube; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand 10 minutes.

Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly on lightly oiled countertop until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack to second highest position (rack should be about 4 to 5 inches below broiler), set pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide into 3 equal balls. Shape each into a smooth, tight ball. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet, spacing them at least 3 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with nonstick cooking spray; let stand for 1 hour.

Only use 1 tablespoon flour directly onto the peel. Discard any extra flour. Holding with the palm of your hand, grab the edges and pull outwards in a circle until the dough covers the peel’s surface. Using back of spoon or ladle, spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in thin layer over surface of dough, leaving 1/4-inch border around edge. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan evenly over sauce, followed by 1 cup mozzarella. Slide pizza carefully onto stone and bake until crust is well browned and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pizza halfway through. Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Repeat step 5 to shape, top, and bake second pizza. Serves 3 – 4.

 

FRIDAY

I dare you to try and hold a conversation while eating these ridiculously tasty, crunchy, fragrant and ever so irresistible beef tacos.

IMG_4662

Tacos Dorados (Crispy Tacos)

TACOS DORADOS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tblspn water
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 12oz 90 percent lean ground beef
  • 7 tblspn vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 ½ tblspn chili powder
  • 1 ½ tblspn paprika
  • 1 ½ tblspn ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Salt
  • 2 tblspn tomato paste
  • 2oz cheddar cheese, shredded (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Chopped tomato
  • Sour cream
  • Pickled jalapeño slices
  • Hot sauce

DIRECTIONS

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine water and baking soda in large bowl. Add beef and mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook until paste is rust-colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Add beef mixture and cook, using wooden spoon to break meat into pieces no larger than ¼ inch, until beef is no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer beef mixture to bowl; stir in cheddar until cheese has melted and mixture is homogeneous. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.

Thoroughly brush both sides of tortillas with 2 tablespoons oil. Arrange tortillas, overlapping, on rimmed baking sheet in 2 rows (6 tortillas each). Bake until tortillas are warm and pliable, about 5 minutes. Remove tortillas from oven and reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees.

Place 2 tablespoons filling on 1 side of 1 tortilla. Fold and press to close tortilla (edges will be open, but tortilla will remain folded). Repeat with remaining tortillas and remaining filling. (At this point, filled tortillas can be covered and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.)

Set wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet and line rack with double layer of paper towels. Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Arrange 6 tacos in skillet with open sides facing away from you. Cook, adjusting heat so oil actively sizzles and bubbles appear around edges of tacos, until tacos are crispy and deeply browned on 1 side, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs and thin spatula, carefully flip tacos. Cook until deeply browned on second side, 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary.

Remove skillet from heat and transfer tacos to prepared wire rack. Blot tops of tacos with double layer of paper towels. Place sheet with fried tacos in oven to keep warm. Return skillet to medium-high heat and cook remaining tacos. Serve tacos immediately, passing extra cheddar, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, jalapeños, and hot sauce separately.

 

SATURDAY

There’s absolutely nothing exotic about shrimp toast, other than the way they taste. Here is a super easy, fool proof appetizer or cocktail party snack that will cause a sensation. And forget the gooey, sticky dipping sauce. These tasty triangles are just perfect as they are.

IMG_4670

Shrimp Toast

SHRIMP TOAST

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp-shelled, deveined and coarsely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Asian chili-garlic sauce
  • Unsalted butter, for greasing the baking sheet
  • 20 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a food processor, combine the scallions, mint, garlic, pepper, coriander and salt; pulse to mix. Add the shrimp and process to a thick paste. Add the eggs, sesame oil and chili-garlic sauce and process for 30 seconds. Transfer shrimp paste to a bowl.

Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. Stack the bread slices and cut them into 3-inch squares, cutting off the crusts. Spread the bread with the shrimp paste and brush lightly with vegetable oil. Cut each square diagonally in half and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the shrimp toast in the middle and upper third of the oven for about 10 minutes, until the topping is cooked through; switch the pans halfway through baking.
Turn on the broiler. Working with one sheet at a time, broil the shrimp toasts 6 inches from the heat for about 2 – 4 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed. Transfer the toasts to a platter and serve immediately.

 

BONUS RECIPE

Ok, so while I might be the very last person in lockdown to bake banana bread (since when did it become a COVID-prevention?), I doubt if anyone else took the trouble to save a few slices to pop into the waffle iron before smothering them with caramelized bananas for an amped-up breakfast. I didn’t think so.

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Banana Bread Waffles with Caramelized Bananas

BANANA BREAD

INGREDIENTS

This is a great way to use overripe bananas. But if you have fresh bananas, let them spend a day or two in the freezer which will soften them up nicely once they thaw out.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • 1/4 tspn baking soda
  • 1/8 tspn salt
  • 1/4 tspn cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 tspn grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9X3 inch loaf pan. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In another bowl combine the egg, bananas, sugar, oil and lemon rind.
Add the dry mixture to the egg mixture. Stir until moistened.
Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake in 350 degree oven for 60 – 70 minutes until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the corners are slightly burned.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf and continue to cool on the rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing. Serves 8.

 

CARAMELIZED BANANAS

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Remove the peels from the bananas and slice them into 1/2″ inch thick discs.

Set a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the oil or butter, honey, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine.

Add the banana slices, and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden and caramelized. Be sure to watch the heat and turn it down if it browns too quickly. You want enough heat to caramelize and brown the slices, but you don’t want them to burn. Serve on ice- cream, oatmeal or waffles. Serves 2.

 

Stay safe. Stay sane, but most importantly – stay inside!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite quarantine recipes Part VI

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Oat Bar “Crunchies”

It’s been 6 weeks and I’ve really started shaking out my recipe books to loosen some of our most beloved – but (of late) ignored mealtime favorites that haven’t seen the light of the stove for many years. They’re tried, they’re true and they’re simply terrific. See what you think.

 

Sunday

We’ve been bumping into quite a bounty of wild caught salmon lately, and one of the simplest-yet tastiest ways to really enjoy a firm and juicy sockeye steak is to poach it on top of a few supporting vegetables in a fragrant broth, and then smother it with the most luxuriously smooth, silky, salty, creamy, dreamy dressing known to man.

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Poached Salmon with Green Goddess Dressing

POACHED SALMON

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or fish stock)
  • 4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a medium skillet (with a lid), combine the onion, carrot, celery, peppercorns, bay leaves, and wine. Add enough water to come 1 1/2 inches up side of skillet. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper, and place in skillet. Cover; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let stand until fillets are opaque, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or chilled with green goddess dressing.

GREEN GODDESS DRESSING

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tblspn fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 Tblspn chopped chives
  • 1 Tblspn chopped chervil
  • 1/2Tblspn chopped scallion
  • 1 Tblspn chopped tarragon
  • 1/2 Tblspn white-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 anchovy fillets
  • 1 Tblspn whole milk

DIRECTIONS

Soak anchovies in milk for 15 minutes. Drain and discard the milk. Rinse anchovies.
In a food processor, combine all of the remaining ingredients. Process until smooth and creamy.  Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

 

Monday

Just because it’s veggie night doesn’t mean we have to slam on the flavor brakes. In fact, this spicy, garlicky Chermoula dressing elevates these grilled eggplants all the way to the penthouse before being topped with a bulgur salad spiked with nuts, olives and a few other surprises.

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Chermoula Eggplant with Bulgur Salad

CHERMOULA EGGPLANT WITH BULGUR SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • ⅔ cup olive oil, plus extra to finish
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 1 cup fine bulgur
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ⅓ cup golden raisins
  • 3 ½ tablespoons warm water
  • ⅓ ounce (2 teaspoons) cilantro, chopped, plus extra to finish
  • ⅓ ounce (2 teaspoons) mint, chopped
  • ⅓ cup pitted green olives, halved
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To make the chermoula, mix together in a small bowl the garlic, cumin, coriander, chili, paprika, lemon zest, two-thirds of the olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Score the flesh of each half with deep, diagonal crisscross cuts, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, and place the eggplant halves on a baking sheet, cut side up. Put in the oven and roast for 45 minutes, or until the eggplants are completely soft.

Meanwhile, place the bulgur in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave for 20 minutes until the bulgur is chewy-soft.

Soak the raisins in the warm water. After 10 minutes, drain the raisins and add them to the bulgur, along with the remaining oil. Add the herbs, olives, almonds, green onions, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Serve the eggplants warm or at room temperature. Place 1/2 eggplant, cut side up, on each individual plate. Spoon the bulgur on top, allowing some to fall from both sides. Spoon over some yogurt, sprinkle with cilantro and finish with a drizzle of oil. Serves 4.

 

Tuesday

Chimichurri is to steak, what fried turkey legs are to NASCAR! You just can’t enjoy the one without the other. Oh, and if there is any left over, it provides a monstrously wonderful dip for a spare piece of baguette (or six)!

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Skirt Steak with Chimichurri sauce and sweet-potato fries

CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS

Pulse cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add vinegar and oil and process until combined; season with salt and pepper. Add red pepper flakes to taste. If making far ahead, reduce garlic by 1/2.

 

Wednesday

One of the HBO show’s we’ve been binge-watching during lockdown is “My brilliant friend”. And at one point two of the main characters are seated around a table in the middle of a huge argument, while the most delectable Spaghetti Marinara is being served. It provoked the most mouth-wateringly dish-envy ever, and so I was inspired to slow-cook one of the simplest Italian sauces for 10 hours. I’m talking about the most fragrant, sumptuous and decadent tomato gravy you’ve ever tasted. Warning: this recipe yields a ton of sauce, so feel free to re-invent it on pizza’s, spread thinly onto fresh focaccia or use it as a base for baked eggs. (See Saturday’s recipe).

IMG_4607

Spaghetti with 10-hour Classic Marinara Sauce

CLASSIC 10-HOUR MARINARA SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 onions, chopped fine
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons sugar, plus extra for seasoning
  • chopped fresh basil

DIRECTIONS

Microwave onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, oregano, and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in tomatoes, tomato puree, and wine. Cover and cook until sauce is deeply flavored, 8 to 10 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.

Stir sugar into sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and extra sugar to taste. Before serving, stir in 2 tablespoons basil. Makes 6 cups of sauce.

 

Thursday

This is one of my oldest recipes. Not just because I’ve been making it for 20+ years, but because old man Chasen became famous for it in his legendary Beverly Hills hotspot, and by the time Elizabeth Taylor was in production for “Cleopatra” in 1963, a quart of this very chili had to shipped to her on location in Egypt once a week per her contract with the studio. Yes people, it’s that good! Oh, and these buttermilk biscuits are as flaky as croissants.

IMG_4614

Chasen’s Chili with Super-flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

CHASEN’S CHILI

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter (separated)
  • 2 pounds beef chuck, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound pork shoulder, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Gebhardt’s brand chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 small tin tomato sauce (if needed)

DIRECTIONS

Rinse the beans, picking out the debris. Place beans in a Dutch oven with water to cover. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand one hour. Drain off liquid.
Rinse beans again. Add enough fresh water to cover beans. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for one hour or until tender. Set aside.
Melt 2/3 of the butter in a large Dutch oven or Slow cooker. Brown the meat thoroughly for about 10 minutes. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon and pour into a strainer over a bowl to remove all the liquids.
Melt the remaining 1/3 of the butter in the same pot. Sautee bell pepper for 5 minutes. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and parsley. Add tomatoes and their liquid along with the chili powder, salt, pepper, and cumin. (If there isn’t enough liquid, add a small tin of tomato sauce.)
Bring mixture to a boil. Add the meat. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered for one hour. Uncover and add the beans and cook 30 minutes more or to desired consistency. Chili shouldn’t be too thick–it should be somewhat liquid but not runny like soup. Makes 8 cups.

SUPER-FLAKY BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen for 30 minutes
  • 1 ¼ cups buttermilk, chilled

DIRECTIONS

In hot or humid environments, chill the flour mixture, grater, and work bowls before use. The dough will start out very crumbly and dry in pockets but will be smooth by the end of the folding process; do not be tempted to add extra buttermilk. Flour the counter and the top of the dough as needed to prevent sticking, but be careful not to incorporate large pockets of flour into the dough when folding.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. Coat sticks of butter in flour mixture, then grate 7 tablespoons from each stick on large holes of box grater directly into flour mixture. Toss gently to combine. Set aside remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

Add buttermilk to flour mixture and fold with spatula until just combined (dough will look dry). Transfer dough to liberally floured counter. Dust surface of dough with flour; using your floured hands, press dough into rough 7-inch square.

Roll dough into 12 by 9-inch rectangle with short side parallel to edge of counter. Starting at bottom of dough, fold into thirds like business letter, using bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough from counter. Press top of dough firmly to seal folds. Turn dough 90 degrees clockwise. Repeat rolling into 12 by 9-inch rectangle, folding into thirds, and turning clockwise 4 more times, for total of 5 sets of folds. After last set of folds, roll dough into 8 1/2-inch square about 1 inch thick. Transfer dough to prepared sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

Transfer dough to lightly floured cutting board. Using sharp, floured chef’s knife, trim 1/4 inch of dough from each side of square and discard. Cut remaining dough into 9 squares, flouring knife after each cut. Arrange biscuits at least 1 inch apart on sheet. Melt reserved butter; brush tops of biscuits with melted butter.

Bake until tops are golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Transfer biscuits to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

 

Friday

Another old favorite – that never gets old. ‘nuff said!

IMG_4623

Sole Meuniére with Brown butter Caper sauce

SOLE MEUNIERE WITH BROWN BUTTER CAPER SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 (8 ounces) sole fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons clarified butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh butter
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoons drained brined capers, minced
  • Lemon slices, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Season fillets with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons clarified butter in each of 2 large saute pans.

Dredge fillets in flour, shaking off any excess flour. Place fillets in saute pans and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy. Remove fillets from pans and transfer on to a platter, sprinkle with parsley. Cover with foil.

Remove remaining butter from one of the skillets and add the fresh butter. Heat until the butter begins to brown. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and capers. Pour sauce over fish and serve. Garnish with lemon slices. Serves 2.

 

Saturday

OK, so about that left-over marinara from Wednesday: just load it in a cast-iron skillet. Make 4 indentations and carefully lower an egg into each indentation. Bake for 12-ish minutes at 400 degrees and then top each egg with grated parmesan and chopped basil and dig in with plenty of crusty bread.

IMG_4629

Italian Baked Eggs

 

Bonus recipe

This is an old classic from my youth. We used to call them “Crunchies”, but here in the US they would probably be referred to as “Oat Bars”. I don’t care what you call them, but they are the quintessential remedy for the 3pm munchies.

SOUTH AFRICAN CRUNCHIES

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2lb butter
  • 1 tbspn golden syrup
  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda

DIRECTIONS

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the flour, oats and coconut in a bowl.
Melt the butter in a small pot and then add the syrup and sugar and continue to cook. When the butter is bubbling, add the baking soda and stir to combine and remove from the heat.
Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together by hand.
Using the back of a metal spoon, gently press the crunchie mixture into a greased or parchment-lined baking tray – size dependant on how thick you like the crunchies.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then turn the oven down to 325 degree and bake for a further 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown. (The thinner they are, the crunchier they will be. The thicker they are, the softer they will be and the longer they will need to bake.)
Allow to cool in the pan before slicing. Serves about 9.

 

Stay safe. Stay sane, but most importantly – stay inside!

 

My favorite quarantine recipes Part V

IMG_4587

Yogurt parfait with Granola

After 35 days of isolation, I’ve made 35 different dishes with not much abatement in sight. In fact, my “no recipe duplication challenge” has only just hit 2nd gear. Still so much to cook, eat (and clean up) until New York’s restaurant scene re-emerges.  Here are this past week’s sweet and savory delights.

 

SUNDAY

I cannot begin to describe the most amazing garlicky, gingery, chili aromas that emanate from the kitchen with this all-in-one roast chicken and potatoes, but the fact that it takes nearly 3 hours to do so makes for some very envious neighbors. A great meal for a Sunday night where you have the time to work up a furious appetite.

IMG_4542

Slow roasted chicken and potatoes

SLOW ROASTED CHICKEN AND POTATOES

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3½–4-lb. whole chicken
  • 1¾ tsp kosher salt, plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 Tbsp. gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 heads of garlic
  • 1 ½” piece fresh ginger
  • 1½ lb. baby Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1½” in diameter)
  • 5 scallions
  • 2 limes
  • 2 tsp. honey

DIRECTIONS

Do Ahead: Chicken can be seasoned 12 hours ahead. Chill chicken if you’re not going to cook within 2 hours of seasoning.

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 300°. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place on a small rimmed baking sheet. Season whole chicken all over with 1 Tbsp kosher salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper, making sure to season the inside cavity.

Whisk gochujang and 1/4 cup olive oil in a medium bowl until combined. Finely grate 3 garlic cloves (from one of the heads of garlic) into gochujang oil. Peel ginger and then grate into gochujang oil; whisk to combine.

Cut what’s left of the head of garlic in half crosswise. Repeat with the second and third heads as well. Stuff 2 garlic head halves (or individual close if they come apart) inside cavity of chicken. Tie legs together with kitchen twine.

Using a pastry brush, brush half of gochujang oil over chicken.

Toss potatoes and remaining garlic halves and 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in remaining gochujang oil until well coated. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss again to combine.

Arrange potatoes in a 12″ cast-iron skillet, scooting them toward edges of pan to make space for chicken. Nestle as many garlic halves (cut sides down) as needed in center of skillet. Stand the chicken on top of the garlic halves—as it roasts, it will infuse the fat (and thus, the potatoes) with flavor. If any potatoes have shimmied their way under the chicken, use tongs to arrange them around it (they won’t cook at the same rate if they’re underneath the chicken).

Roast chicken and potatoes, turning potatoes once or twice to coat in juices and oil that accumulate in pan, until potatoes are very tender when pressed with the back of a spoon, and chicken skin is deep reddish-golden brown in color, 2½–3 hours. When you wiggle the legs of the chicken, they should feel loose in the joints, meaning the meat is fall-apart tender. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 10–15 minutes.

Meanwhile, use the back of a large spoon or a potato masher to gently smash potatoes in skillet, exposing some of their flesh to juices underneath so they can soak them up.

Finish the potatoes: Thinly slice 5 scallions on a long diagonal. Cut 2 limes in half. Cut 1 half into wedges and set aside. Stir 2 tsp. honey and juice of remaining lime half into potatoes. Taste potatoes and season with more salt if needed. Scatter sliced scallions over potatoes.

Carve chicken, then arrange pieces over potatoes and scallions. Serve right out of skillet with remaining lime wedges alongside for squeezing, and squeeze out the sweet, slow-roasted garlic cloves as you wish. Serves 4-6.

 

MONDAY

It’s pretty hard to intimidate mussels. You can pretty much throw anything at them and they will thrive and survive. This dish has a one-two-punch from a pair of red-pepper sauces that crank the bivalves up 3 notches to a restaurant-quality dish with an impressive “wow” factor. (You’ll want to drink up the sauce when the mussels are gone.)

IMG_4546

Mussels with Harissa and Basil

MUSSELS WITH HARISSA AND BASIL

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium-size red bell peppers, halved
  • 1 medium-size white onion, unpeeled, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1 small dried Thai chile, stem removed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 – 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup harissa (depending on spiciness)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup roughly torn fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup Pickled Red Onion slices

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to broil with oven rack in middle of oven. Rub bell pepper halves and 2 onion quarters with 1 teaspoon olive oil. (Reserve remaining onion quarters for another use.) Arrange bell pepper halves and onion quarters, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil in preheated oven until bell peppers are well charred, about 15 minutes, adding garlic to baking sheet halfway through broiling. Place bell peppers, onion, and garlic in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature until vegetables are cool enough to handle and bell peppers are softened, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard garlic skins and charred skin from bell peppers and onion.

Transfer bell pepper mixture to a blender; add walnuts, Thai chile, lemon juice, salt, and remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons oil. Begin processing on low speed, and gradually increase speed to high, processing until smooth, about 45 seconds total. Set bell pepper puree aside.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high until very hot, about 3 minutes. Add mussels, and shake pan to arrange mussels in an even layer. Pour wine into pan, and cover with lid. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. Stir in harissa and butter. Cover and cook, shaking pan occasionally, until mussels are completely open, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and discard any mussels that did not open. Stir in bell pepper puree. Using a slotted spoon, transfer mussels to deep bowls, and pour sauce from pan evenly over mussels. Sprinkle evenly with Thai basil leaves and pickled red onion petals. Serves 4.

 

TUESDAY

I opted to keep things super simple for vegetarian day with these spicy, caramelized roasted yams that enjoy a bright and refreshing lime-flavored yogurt dressing to bring home the sweet, sour, tang and tart in a single mouthful. (The leftovers are great – sliced up in salads).

IMG_4559

Roasted yams

ROASTED YAMS

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large yams
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup Greek-style yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, approximately 2 limes
  • 2 scallions, both green and white parts, trimmed and thinly sliced, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 425. Cut the yams lengthwise into 4 wedges per yam. Put them in a large bowl, and toss them with the honey, ½ tablespoon of the crushed red-pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, tossing once or twice to coat, as the oven heats.

Transfer the yams to a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and then bake until they are deeply caramelized around the edges and soft when pierced with a fork at their thickest part, approximately 30 to 35 minutes.

As the yams roast, combine the yogurt, lime juice and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl, and whisk to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

When the yams are done, transfer them to a serving platter, drizzle the yogurt over them and garnish with the remaining Espelette pepper or red-pepper flakes, the scallions and some flaky sea salt if you have any. Serves 4-6.

 

WEDNESDAY

Seeing as there was a little gochujang left from Sunday’s chicken, I wrested this quick-and-easy recipe from virtual obscurity which makes a lonely pork-chop, a legend in his own lunchtime.

IMG_4568

Korean grilled Pork Chops

KOREAN GRILLED PORK CHOPS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 3 tblspn canola oil (separated)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 boneless pork chops, thin cut and trimmed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tblspn gochujang
  • 1 tblspn orange juice
  • 2 tsp mirin
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

Use 1 tblspn of the oil to fry up the peanuts until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with the chili powder and set aside.
Whisk the gochujang, juice and mirin together.
Salt and pepper both sides of the chops.
Broil or fry in a cast iron skillet until well browned (about 4 minutes). Flip over and cook the other side. Smother the chops into the sauce (or pour over them while still in the pan) until well coated on both sides. Sprinkle with the peanuts and scallions. Serves 2.

 

THURSDAY

Who would have predicted that the two scarcest commodities during the COVID-19 pandemic would turn out to be toilet-paper and yeast. I get the fact that we all have to poop, but since when did we all have to bake bread? I mean really! I’ve had the craving for a multi-layered-salami-and-cheese Muffuletta sandwich for some time now, but was determined to bake my own rosemary-lemon loaf. Who knew I would have to reach out to a shady character to score me a few grams of yeast from slightly north of the Mexico border?

IMG_4576

Muffuletta

MUFFULETTA

INGREDIENTS

For Olive Relish:

  • 1 (8-ounce) jar giardiniera (pickled vegetables), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup mixed pitted marinated olives (5 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted bell peppers, drained
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

For Muffuletta:

  • 1 (1-pound) muffuletta loaf or round ciabatta
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese slices
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese slices
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced ham
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced capicola
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced mortadella

DIRECTIONS

Combine giardiniera, olives, bell peppers, parsley, capers, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Place mixture in a bowl; stir in oil and vinegar. Let stand 1 hour; cover and chill up to 2 days.

Cut bread in half horizontally. Tear away some of the soft bread interior to make some room for the fillings. Spread half of olive relish over bottom half of bread; top with half of cheese, all of the meats, and then the remaining cheese. Spread remaining olive relish on top half of bread, and close the sandwich. Wrap entire sandwich tightly in plastic wrap, and weigh it down slightly. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. Cut into 8 wedges. Serves 4.

 

FRIDAY

Dumb question: Who doesn’t like fried chicken? But one of the many reasons I adore this 18 year-old recipe, is that even though the chicken cooks in the oven, the buttermilk and garlic brine is an iron-clad insurance policy that guarantees moist and tender breasts. You can pair this with any slaw, but I happen to love this red one.

IMG_4578

Oven fried Chicken

OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 pints buttermilk
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup rustic Cajun rub (I prefer Emeril’s classic)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS

Add the garlic, buttermilk and chicken to a zip lock bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the Cajun spices with the flour in a bowl. Discard the garlic and buttermilk and dip each chicken breast into the flour mixture to thoroughly coat on all sides.
Heat the oil in a medium sized skillet on medium heat. Gently fry each breast for only 2 minutes on one aide. This step is purely for color. Using a spatula and tongs, very, very gently flip them over for another 2 minutes, taking care not to lose any of the fragile crust which is still very soft. Carefully transfer the breasts to a wire rack set over a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25 – 35 minutes until they reach 165 degrees. Serves 4.

RED CABBAGE SLAW

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, cut into roughly 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 small carrots, grated
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup golden raisins

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and sugar until dissolved. Slowly whisk in oil, celery seed, salt and pepper to taste. Toss in cabbage, carrots, red onion and raisins to coat well. Cover and let sit at least 1 hour. Serves 6.

SATURDAY

I dare you to throw away that old sweet and sour shrimp recipe you’ve been hanging onto all these years. It’s not as if it ever tasted remotely like the real thing anyway. This gem comes from a cooking class I attended in Hong Kong by a former Cantonese restaurateur who bragged that she had served over 500,000 of these during her career. (For a healthy alternative, substitute cauliflower rice for regular Jasmin).

IMG_4584

Sweet and Sour Shrimp

SWEET AND SOUR SHRIMP

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbslpn cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup onion cut into strips
  • 1/3 cup pickled carrots
  • 2 Tblspn pickled ginger
  • 1/4 cup fresh ginger, julienned
  • 2 Tblspn garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1lb shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 red chilli pepper cut into strips
  • 1/2 green chilli pepper cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp HP sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp potato starch
  • 4 spring onions cut into 1 1/2″ lengths on the bias
  • Sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Stir the vinegar, sugar and the 3 sauces in a jug until well combined. Set aside.
Heat a wok over medium-high. Add the cooking oil and stir fry the onion, fresh ginger and garlic for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and toss for another 1 – 2 minutes.
Add the chilli peppers, pickled carrots and ginger. Keep tossing the ingredients. Add the sauce mixture and cook for about 3 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
In a small ramiken, dissolve the potato starch in the water and add to the wok to thicken. Remove from heat and add the spring onions and a dash of sesame oil. Toss once or twice more and serve immediately with rice. Serves 4.

 

BONUS RECIPE

Don’t you find that most Granola’s are nothing more than stale, brown crumbs and sawdust? After the endless additions I’ve made over the years, this one has become somewhat of a signature. But be warned, even though this insanely nutty Granola is intended for yogurt, fruit or ice-cream toppings, it is also a dangerously snackable snack. Keep out of reach of adults.

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Insanely nutty Granola

INSANELY NUTTY GRANOLA

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ⅓ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup raw pecans
  • 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts (chopped in half)
  • 2 tspn salt
  • ⅓ cup dark molasses
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ¾ cup dried sour cherries

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pistachios, coconut, pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, pecans, hazelnuts and salt.

In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the oil and molasses until just combined, then remove from heat. Fold liquids into the oat and nut mixture, making sure to coat all the dry ingredients well.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and spread the granola over it. Flatten and smoothe to an even layer. Bake until dry and lightly golden for about 30 minutes, stirring around halfway through.

Remove granola from oven, and allow to thoroughly cool. Mix in the dried sour cherries and transfer to a storage container. Makes 6 cups.

 

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