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.

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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.

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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.)

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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)

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

IMG_4599

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)!

IMG_4617

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.

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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.

IMG_4588

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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