Saturday, October 3, 2015

Ina Garten's Coquilles St. Jacques from "Make It Ahead"


I am a huge fan of Ina Garten or as a friend of mine once said “What’s not to like?”  Ina makes great food accessible to even the most amateur cook.  This may be because Ina herself is a completely self-taught home cook.  She knows her audience.   Her recipes are timeless and her selection of them inspired and inspiring.  Her latest cookbook “Make it Ahead” (Clarkson Potter 2014) is her ninth.  The book is exactly what the title hints at.  All of its recipes can be put together hours before dinner guests arrive to relieve the host or hostess of having to do anything more than put food in the oven and take it out.  Ina points out that there are plenty of foods that benefit from ‘aging’ in the refrigerator so that the flavors mix and meld. The recipe I want to share with you today is a prime example.   It’s Ina’s take on this classic of French cooking: Scallops in a creamy sauce with just a hit of curry are cooked under a crust of bread crumbs and cheese.  Served in individual gratin dishes with a simple green salad and a glass of white wine make a perfect meal for company or just someone you love.   And as much as I love Ina, I love a good food story and this is one of the best.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Best Costco Rotisserie Chicken Recipes: Chicken Cheesesteaks with Peppers and BBQ Chicken French Bread Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella

Chicken Cheesesteaks with Peppers
BBQ Chicken French Bread Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella 
A bargain at $4.99 
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I recall reading that there’s a food site with over 400 recipes devoted to a single subject: they all use Costco rotisserie chicken.  It sounds plausible. 76 million of the $4.99 bird were sold in 2014 alone. I am incapable of going into Costco and coming out without one whether I’ve spent $240 or just run into the store to get this phenomenal bargain. At Costco, it actually costs less to buy a cooked chicken than it does to buy a raw one.  And, oh what chicken!  Juicy, beautifully browned and seasoned, and, since last March, they are even anti-biotic free.  Caveat emptor: “Seasoned” is code for the spicy brine which gives the chicken so much flavor…and, unfortunately, also its sodium content.   A 3 oz. portion comes in at 140 calories with 7 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 5.6 grams of sugar, 19 grams of protein and 0 grams of carbohydrates or fiber.  Then there’s the sodium at 460 milligrams.  For comparison, the current guidelines suggest salt should be limited to 2300 milligrams a day.  I guess all bargains come with some deal with the devil.   And in this case, the deal is delicious.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sicilian Caponata with Pine Nuts


Rebel Features communal tables as seen in
this overhead shot. 
“Dear Bon Appétit”, wrote Phyllis Follet of Cambridge, Massachusetts, “My husband and I celebrated our 44th
 Wedding Anniversary at Ribelle in Brookline, MA.  The caponata was astounding. Would the chef share the recipe?”  And Ribelle (1665 Beacon St., Brookline, MA 02445 Tel: (617)232-2322) did, of course, share it.  
I have only had Caponata several times but the dish left such a vivid impression, that I was delighted to find its recipe.  Caponata, an antipasto dish of eggplant and tomatoes is Sicillian, or at least has been claimed by Sicily ever since its documented appearance there in 1709.  But, hark, Sicily may not have invented the dish all by itself.  Set in the Mediterranean Sea, caponata likely came from Spain. There, in Catalunya ‘caponada’, a similar kind of relish, is made.  The Catalan word “capon” is used to describe “Capón de Galera”, a gazpacho or caponata-like dish served aboard ship. It’s believed that it served as a mariner's breakfast because of the large amount of vinegar used, which would have acted as a preservative.  But the chefs at Ribelle have taken quite a bit of license with Larousse’s description of caponata: “ A Sicilian specialty made of aubergines, celery and tomatoes….flavored with capers, olives and anchovy filets.”   Take heart, anchovy and olive haters, there’s none of that here!