Twenty-something days into a seemingly endless isolation, the only real downside to my self-imposed challenge to never repeat the same dish twice for as long as the lockdown lasts is when my semi-smart bathroom scale flashes ONE AT TIME PLEASE! Regardless, week 3 heralded a couple of old faithfuls, a few recently improveds and one or two new entrants to our “keepers” folder.
We generally stick to at least one vegetarian dinner each week, and I had already planned on making a batch of my perfected-over-time Puttanesca, but the nice thing about this dish is that it can pair with way more than just pasta. In fact, after spotting a handsome pair of wild caught Chilean sea bass steaks, I decided to take a rain-check on the veg rule.
- 2 to 4 chilies de arbol
- 4 large garlic cloves thinly sliced on a mandolin
- 3 tblspn olive oil, divided
- 2 oil packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
- 1 tblspn fresh oregano leaves
- 2 cups crushed San Marzano tomatoes, drained
- 3/4 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives pitted and coarsely chopped
- 2 tblspn drained capers
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Heat chili’s, garlic, and 2 tablespoons oil in a large deep skillet over medium low. Cook,stirring occasionally until garlic is tender and light golden, about five minutes.
Add anchovies and oregano, cook, breaking up anchovies using the back of a spoon, until garlic is golden and mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute and 30 seconds.
Add tomatoes bring to a simmer over medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally until flavors all melded and sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard chilies. Stir in olives and capers and cook for another 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
Remove from heat. Add basil and remaining 1 tablespoon oil, toss to coat.
Most pork chop recipes include some concoction of apple or apple-derivatives. While many of them might be good, nice and fine…good, nice and fine are all four-letter words. Instead, I dare you to try this wonderfully sublime (and new to me) Ginger-scallion relish. You’ll quickly forget how to spell appel.
- 6 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced thin
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 teaspoons juice
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
Combine scallion whites, ginger, pepper, and lime zest in heatproof bowl.
Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering.
Pour oil over scallion mixture. (Mixture will bubble.) Stir until well combined.
Let cool completely, about 15 minutes.
Stir in scallion greens, lime juice, and soy sauce.
Let mixture sit for 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
Another smashing new-to-me recipe for a rather classic dish is a wonderfully garlicky, buttery Linguine in White Clam sauce that makes you forget how long it’s been since you stepped a bare foot onto a soft, sandy beach. BTW, you don’t have to use fresh clams in the shell, but I just happen to think they make this dish look that much sexier.
LINGUINE WITH WHITE CLAM SAUCE
- 1 tblsp butter
- 2 – 3 tblsp olive oil
- 4 or more large garlic cloves, crushed or minced
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 8oz chopped frozen clams (thawed)
- (I also like to include a handful of fresh clams in their shells for garnish)
- 1-2 bottles of clam juice
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese with more for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley with more for serving
- 1 lb linguine pasta
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions.
(If using fresh clams in their shell, steam them until they all open, about 7 – 10 minutes. Set aside.)
Rinse the thawed clams in a strainer and then add them to a small pot of simmering broth, water or clam juice. Cook for no more than 2 minutes, drain and set aside.
(If using tinned cooked clams, separate the clams from their juice.)
In a large saucepan heat butter and olive oil, add garlic, cook for approx 1 to 2 minutes until aromatic. Add bottled clam juice and white wine to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste and allow the sauce to simmer. Add red pepper flakes.
Remove from heat and finally add the cooked (or tinned) clams to get them warm and coated in the sauce.
Drain pasta, and add back to the pot on medium-low heat. Pour the sauce mixture over the pasta, add grated cheese, salt, pepper and parsley and stir until nicely combined.
Serve in a bowl with a sprinkle of additional cheese and parsley and some baguette slices to mop up the extra sauce.
I can barely remember when “Wednesday Wings” used to be a thing. But unlike their upstate cousins from Buffalo, these Crispy Peppercorn Chicken Wings don’t require all that deep frying (–twice, if you want them extra crispy). These are baked and then broiled in the oven. The secret is in the spice mixture.
CRISPY PEPPERCORN CHICKEN WINGS
- 2 tablespoons black pepper corns
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoons garam masala or Chinese five-spice powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 3 pounds chicken wings, flats and drumettes separated, patted dry with paper towels
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 scallions
- 1 lime
Crush peppercorns in a pestle and mortar or with the bottom of a saucepan in a baking sheet.
Add salt, coriander, cumin, garam masala, baking soda, and sugar to bowl with peppercorns and mix with your hands to make sure all spices are intermingled.
Add chicken wings and oil and toss with your hands until wings are evenly coated. Chill, uncovered for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Arrange wings on prepared sheet, spacing then apart and them let sit until they’ve lost the chill of the fridge and are as close to room temperature as possible, at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°. You’re going to bake and then broil the wings so they get extra crispy, so make sure you have one rack aset closer to the broiler
Bake wings on center rack, removing sheet halfway through and turning wings over with a pair of tongs, until browned and crisp in spots and cooked through, 30–40 minutes.
Remove baking sheet from oven and turn on broiler; let heat at least 5 minutes. Broil wings on top rack until browned and crisp all over and nubs on ends of drumettes are just a little charred for about a minute. Remove from oven and turn wings again.
Broil until second side looks as crisp and lightly charred as the first, also about 1 minute. Let rest about 5 minutes.
While the wings are resting, thinly slice scallions and cut lime into wedges. Arrange wings on a platter and scatter scallions over. Serve with lime wedges alongside.
Just because I haven’t shared any breakfast recipes so far doesn’t mean that I don’t partake in one of the three most important meals of the day. This Oven-baked Steelcut oats has to be one of the strangest preparations of oatmeal ever. I “borrowed” the recipe from a seaside resort café where the (high, drunk or both) chef might have intended to make oatmeal cookies but threw in steelcut oats by mistake. The happy accident is a nutty, chewy, cookie-esque version of Grape nuts. Serve with plain yogurt, berries and (last week’s) Lemon curd.
OVEN-BAKED STEELCUT OATS
- 1 cup Steelcut oats
- 1 Tblspn brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbslpn melted butter
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Stir first 5 dry ingredients together and mix well.
Beat the wet ingredients and fold into the dry until well moistened.
Pour the mixture into a medium sized, greased baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes and then using a spatula, chop it up into very small chunks and stir it around. Bake for another 15 minutes, continue to chop it up and let cool. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.
To serve warm, saute briefly in a skillet with a little butter. Serve with a very generous dollop of plain yogurt, blueberries and lemon curd (essential).
Or you can serve it cold with whole milk or almond milk.
Here’s a question for you: What’s the difference is between an Austrian Wienerschnitzel and a Japanese Tonkatsu? Both involve pounded, crumbed and fried veal, pork or chicken. But because that they are both equally delicious, does anyone actually care what the difference is? The key is what you pair them with. This recipe works just as well for any of the above proteins, but the secret is in the dark-and-sassy Tonkatsu dip – plus these amazingly crispy quick-pickled cucumbers.
CHICKEN TONKATSU WITH JAPANESE PICKLED CUCUMBERS
For the pickled Cucumbers:
- ½ pound small Kirby cucumbers, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, more for seasoning
- 1 ¼ teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons sliced scallions
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced shiso or basil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted Asian sesame oil
For the Tonkatsu:
- 8 thin slices chicken breast medallions
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 2 cups panko crumbs
- ½ cup flour
- Black pepper
- Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
For the Tonkatsu sauce:
- 2 Tblspn tomato sauce
- 3 Tblspn Worchestershire Sauce
- 1 1/2 Tblspn Oyster sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Place the cucumbers in a colander set over a bowl. Toss them with 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon sugar.
Mix the Tonkatsu sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside for serving.
Place one piece of chicken at a time into a Zip-lock bag. Pound the meat to 1/8-inch thickness.
Place eggs in a large shallow bowl; whisk in the Worcestershire and tomato paste. Place the panko crumbs and flour in two separate shallow bowls.
Season cutlets with salt and pepper. Dip each cutlet in the flour (tap off excess), the egg mixture (ditto), then dredge in the panko.
Heat a large pan, pour in 1/8 inch of oil and heat for 30 seconds. Working in batches, put cutlets in the pan. Immediately shake and tilt it so the oil rolls over the chicken in waves (this will give it a lighter, crisper crust). Shake the pan occasionally, until cutlets are golden on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip them and shake again. Cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined platter to drain.
Pat the cucumbers dry with paper towels. Toss with scallions, vinegar, shiso (or basil), soy sauce, sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Serve cutlets with pickled cucumbers and sauce on the side.
A wonderfully rustic variation from serving meat ragu with pasta is to pile it on top of a mound of steaming, fresh polenta. This Beef short-rib Ragu cooks for a good 2+ hours in the oven before falling apart and yielding to mouthwatering tomato-ey, garlicky and umami flavors. Don’t forget a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan.
BEEF SHORT-RIB RAGU
- 1 ½ cups beef broth
- ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
- ½ teaspoon five-spice powder
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved, chopped fine
- 2 pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed
- ¾ teaspoon table salt
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Microwave 1/2 cup broth and mushrooms in covered bowl until steaming, about 1 minute. Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain mushrooms in fine-mesh strainer lined with coffee filter, pressing to extract all liquid; reserve liquid and chop mushrooms fine.
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste, anchovies, and five-spice powder and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture has darkened and fond forms on pot bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until wine is reduced and pot is almost dry, 2 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and reserved juice, remaining 1 cup broth, reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and mushrooms and bring to simmer.
Toss beef with ¾ teaspoon salt and season with pepper. Add beef to pot, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook for 1 hour. Uncover and continue to cook until beef is tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours longer.
Remove pot from oven; using slotted spoon, transfer beef to cutting board and let cool for 5 minutes. Using 2 forks, shred beef into bite-size pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat or connective tissue. Using large spoon, skim off any excess fat that has risen to surface of sauce. Return beef to sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)
Stay safe. Stay sane, but most importantly – stay at home!