HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.
Showing posts with label 30 Minute Dinners. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 30 Minute Dinners. Show all posts

Monday, December 22, 2014

Shrimp Scampi, an amazingly fast Italian American Classic and the story of the Feast of the 7 Fishes.


                                                       

Scampi

 I first wrote this post a year ago. But I thought I would repeat it again this year because it's a wonderful explanation of an Italian tradition that many Italian Americans will uphold again this Christmas Season. And the recipe follows my mantra for the season: Get 
something on the dinner table in no time and impress one all with a wonderful dish for all to savor. I had some 20-25 count Shrimp and started poking around for a recipe that had not appeared on Chewing the Fat.  Since there have been no less that 41 shrimp recipes published here, it amazed me to discover that the Italian American restaurant classic, Shrimp Scampi, had never made an appearance here.  How clearly I remember Scampi from my first forays into an Italian restaurant in Montreal.  The overtly garlic-y, buttery sauce was a sensation—especially if you teamed it up with crusty bread to soak up the sauce.  Later, when I went to school in Italy and learned the language, I was surprised to hear that ‘Shrimp Scampi’ is rather like calling something Chicken Poulet.  Scampi is the ingredient “langoustines” -- an Italian version of shrimp.  But this dish itself is pure Italian American cooking, plain and simple and incredibly easy to make.  I was astonished that the whole thing took under ten minutes to make. In fact, it’s so speedy, you feel like a one-armed paper hanger juggling the cooking of the shrimp, with the 3 minutes it takes the angel hair pasta to cook.  But this is a winner from start to finish and before the feasting begins tomorrow, it’s a perfect thing to serve the night before the night before Christmas.  Except, perhaps, if you’re Italian, because your Christmas Eve Feast will satisfy your hunger for seafood for quite a while.   I’ll take you through the Scampi recipe after introducing you to The Feast of the 7 Fishes.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ina Garten's Ode to Marcella Hazan: Sicillian Grilled Swordfish and Ina's recipe for Confetti Corn

        
Victor and Marcella Hazan
There is a sad anniversary this week.  It’s been a year since the world lost Marcella Hazan, that wonderfully giving Italian food prophet with whom I struck up a friendship over the internet.  Fortunately, when you are as good as Marcella, your presence in the kitchen will not go with you.  And fortunately too, Marcella’s partner in life and in the kitchen, Victor Hazan, has kept Marcella's memory most alive for fans and friends on her Facebook
page. By complete coincidence, when I was poking around for a recipe for swordfish, what should appear before me but Ina Garten’s Sicillian Grilled Swordfish recipe which Ina said was inspired by Marcella. I found it in Ina’s “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof” (Clarkson Potter 2012).  This recipe certainly keeps up with the title of the book. It’s one of the easiest things I have cooked all summer.   It might take all of 15 minutes to put together.  And it delivers such fresh and full flavor that I wanted to share it with you.  And since we may be heading into the end of corn season, I wanted to also share an Ina recipe for Confetti Corn.  It’s appeared here before. But it is perfect with this dish.        

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Poached Cod with Tomato and Saffron from Bon Appetit


Eric Rippert 
Recently, Andrew and I went to hear Eric Rippert, Fish Chef Extraordinaire  and proprietor of the perennially four-starred Le Bernardin restaurant in New York.  Chef Rippert appeared at a food forum at the YMHA hosted by Adam Gopnick of The New Yorker magazine.   During the question and answer period, the chef was asked what fish he was currently enamored with.   He immediately answered Halibut and since I’d just appropriated a recipe for Halibut from Bon Appetit, off I went to shop from dinner.    When I got to the fishmonger, I was staggered to discover that Halibut was $29.99 a lb.  Now I love Chef Rippert but my love has boundaries and $29.99 a lb. for anything is one of them.  But right next to the Halibut was a beautiful white filet of Atlantic cod from Canada.  The cod came in at $10.99 a lb.  And since I also had a Cod recipe from the same Bon Appetit, I immediately shifted gears.  Since I was making only two portions of the recipe for Poached Cod with Tomato and Saffron, the 10 oz. of fish cost all of $6.85.   The whole meal would have been a spectacular bargain were it not for the Saffron, which even at Trader Joe’s prices, came in at $5.99 for a .020 oz. of the stuff.  Still, the meal was relatively inexpensive, incredibly fast to prepare and absolutely delicious.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry with Asparagus, Peas and Cremini Mushrooms


         Spring has been notable here for tempting us to believe it’s actually arrived. This is followed by plummeting temperatures the next day convincing us all it has not.  In New York City, you can count on the oddest collection of outfits this time of year.   The winter weary—mainly males—can be counted on to don their shorts and tee shirts the minute it gets close to 60 degrees.  They are accompanied by vast numbers of people who resist any wardrobe change until it’s at least 75.  At least that’s the impression I get standing on line in Trader Joes’ between a guy who looks ready for a run in the park and a woman who is wearing a wool hat, coat, scarf and gloves.  Ah well. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Napoleon's Chicken Marengo Two Ways: A 30 Minute Dinner and a Pasta Sauce



I love a recipe with a past and this simple and satisfying Chicken dish is a prime example.  And it may be the only time when you can say you’re serving Chicken fit for an Emperor, in this case Napoleon.  There’s a myth attached to the dish:  It was first made in 1800 after Napoleon defeated the Austrian Army at the Battle of Marengo which was fought south of Turin, Italy.  The story goes that Napoleon’s Chef, a man named Dunand, foraged in the town for ingredients because his supply wagons were too far off.  Dunand was said to have created the dish with whatever he could find. Legend has it that Napoleon liked it so much that he had it served after every battle.  Napoleon was also superstitious because once Dunand was better supplied he substituted mushrooms for the crayfish he’d used in the original version and added wine as well.  Napoleon refused to eat it, believing the change would also change his luck.         

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gratin of Nantucket Bay Scallops and Prosciutto


        

         The other day I saw the sign pictured on the left announcing the annual arrival of Nantucket Bay Scallops.  Like local asparagus, there are only a few weeks a year when these little sweet morsels make their way into our market.  It’s an invitation I cannot refuse.  They’re tender and tiny, a true delicacy.  So I immediately bought enough for two and trundled home to hit the books, or more properly, the internet.   I quickly found a recipe that, while it sounded vaguely familiar, really appealed to me. The sweetness of the scallops was paired with salty bits of prosciutto, a little licorice-flavored liqueur and crisp panko breadcrumbs. There was some chopped garlic thrown in and some shallot as well. I turned to the comments section.  The recipe had very high marks from some reviewers. But others were not so taken with it.   I’ve written about how put off I am when a home cook drastically alters an original recipe and then rails that it wasn’t any good.  But in this case, there seemed to be numbers of people who’d followed the recipe to a Tee and still found it wanting.  And I started to make mental notes about how easy it would be to fix their problems.  It was at that moment that I realized I had indeed made this recipe last Nantucket Bay Scallop season. When you post over 450 recipes, eventually you’re bound to repeat yourself.  But I still wanted  to make it.  So I set about to make it even better than the last time.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Melissa Clark's Penne with Brussels Sprouts, Chile and Pancetta


        
Brussels Sprouts in Winter
on the North Fork of Long Island
As a boy, I cannot think of a vegetable I detested quite as much at the Brussels Sprout.  These nasty little cabbages were about as appealing to me as damp pair of socks. I called them every name in the book and insisted that they were a relic of rationing during the two wars that had preceeded my arrival on the planet.  I’m not sure if the cabbage-like smell was worse than the cabbage-like taste.  However, my vocal protests did not stop my mother from putting them on the table regularly during those months when Canada is a frozen tundra and there’s very little choice in fresh vegetables.  Since we were charter members of the Waste-Not-Want-Not Society, when we were served Brussels Sprouts, we ate Brussels Sprouts. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Fish Story: Gemelli with Spicy Scallops and Snap Peas



        
You might want to hide
after what I turned up...
read on...
Here’s a food writer’s dilemma for you:  Say you discovered a great recipe so full of flavor and so easy to make, you literally jumped on your MacPro and started to extoll its praises the morning after you made it.  You were taken, not just with its ease of preparation, but with the price you paid for its key ingredient.  And its pedigree impressed you:  The Chef who created the recipe had a reputation as a 2013 “Rising Star” semi-finalist for a James Beard Award and was the winner of StarChefs.com 2013 New York Rising Stars Award.  You were unfamiliar with his restaurant but quickly discovered that the New York Times’ Pete Wells had given it 2 stars in 2012.  Then you probed a little deeper and things got very dicey.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Two Ravioli Recipes so simple, I'm almost ashamed of myself: Lobster Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce and Cheese Ravioli with Black Truffles and Mushroom Sauce

Lobster Ravioli with Creamy Tomato Sauce  
Cheese Ravioli with Black Truffles and Mushroom Sauce
Eataly's selection of fresh, stuffed pasta
is hard to beat.
One day I hope I’ll become wildly proficient in making my own Raviolis.  For the time being however, I keep thinking back to my Mother.  On the subject of store-bought substitutes for anything she didn’t have to make herself, she was wildly enthusiastic.  If you knew my mother, if only on this blog, you will remember that her philosophy was to spend the barest amount of time in the kitchen to maximize the time she could spend at the cocktail hour.  She was bold-faced about this and prone to saying things like: “If that little man at the Italian market makes ravioli, why on earth would I?  I mean, he would go out of business if all of sudden everyone started making ravioli.  And I would never want to be a party to that.”  So she kept the Italian market in business.  I suppose all I am doing here is picking up her torch, so to speak.   Besides, I very much doubt I can do raviolis better than the ones I’ve bought.  No surprise that the raviolis at Eataly, the massive Italian food market at Fifth Avenue and 23rd St., are ne plus ultra.  But I don’t turn up my nose at the Fresh raviolis at Fairway. The cheese ravioli featured in today’s post came fresh from King Kullen in Bridgehampton.  The lobster ravioli came from the shelves of Trader Joe’s.  Now you do have to make a sauce, which would have unnerved my mother.  But as I have long since given up two martinis before dinner, I find the sauce about as easy it gets when you’re getting dinner on the table.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Orechiette with Sausage and Spicy Tomato Broccolini Sauce


         Cutting down on carbs is likely the fastest way to lose weight. Candidly, cutting down on alcohol is likely even faster but since that is not going to happen, I’ll stick with cutting carbs.  But anyone who has ever lived in Italy--never mind lived, set foot in Italy is more like it-- cannot envision life without pasta.  But recently, I’ve discovered that if you cut down on pasta portions, you won’t feel the least bit deprived.  You’ll likely enjoy the flavor of the sauce even more simply because there’s more of it and less of pasta.  Most recipes for 4 servings call for one pound of pasta.  Cut that back to 3/4 cup of dried pasta per person and you’ll have more than enough.  Then there’s the magic of the pasta water.  Without adding more oil or cream, pasta water adds creaminess to any sauce without adding a fraction of the calories.  And finally, if you amp up the flavor of the sauce, you’ll feel satisfied with a smaller portion.  All of which I did in this terrific, quick pasta that you can have on the table in about 30 minutes.   

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mu Shu in Moments from Gourmet Magazine


Ready to be folded, Mu Shu in a Moment!


        
Restaurant General Tso's Chicken
the good, the bad and the ugly.
In our bid to eat healthy, Chinese food has taken quite a hit. We never order it for takeout.  And our visits to Chinese restaurants are few and far between.  But take heart.  We have discovered how easy it is to make Chinese food at home.  Not only does this keep the exotic flavors on our table from time to time, it also solves a lot of the issues we’ve had with the food to begin with.  Despite last week's news that salt might not be all that bad for you, Chinese cooking packs extraordinary levels of the stuff.  The current recommended daily intake of sodium is 2300 mgs. Or about a teaspoon.  A restaurant serving of General Tso’s chicken comes in at 3200 mgs. And, at 1300, more than half the calories that an adult is supposed to consume all day (2000).  That’s before you added an egg roll, which will send the sodium count up another 400 mgs. and the calorie count up another 200.  So much for the General's chicken. But surely Chinese vegetables are healthy?  Not so fast.  A plate of stir-fried greens comes in at 900 calories, eggplant in garlic sauce, 1000.  Then there’s MSG, monosodium glutamate, which has had a bad rap since the 60s when it was associated with “headaches, flushing, sweating, numbness, chest pain, nausea, heart palpitations, and weakness” according to Yale Scientific (www.YaleScientific.org). It was even called “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”.  However, according to YS, “researchers have not found any conclusive evidence that links MSG to any of these symptoms, though it is acknowledged that a small minority of people may have mild, short-term reactions to MSG.”  So there!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stir-Fried Chili Scallops with Baby Bok Choy Adapted from Fine Cooking



When I wrote about our culinary adventures in St. Barthelemy, FWI in March, one of our readers, “Mike”, got into a spirited discussion about how the scallops I’d waxed poetic over, were not local.  In fact, he was pretty irate about seafood in general and posted as a comment:  “Why the lack of eating local seafood?  Scallops multiple times mentioned (frozen and cryovaced from America)...so really as a foodie...how good can it be?" Now “Mike” is a Massachusetts native and his knowledge of seafood is impressive.  In a subsequent comment, he explained: “ Scallops do not freeze well…they shrivel and such...and because of that the frozen ones are not "dry" scallops, they are the ones that have that phosphate solution added to them to plump them up and make them hold water and look better after they defrost.” All that being said, I still loved my St. Barth’s scallops.  And when we got home and I came across a recipe for a Stir Fry with scallops, I couldn't wait to get my hands on some fresh scallops.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nigella Lawson's Meatzza



        
I’ve hesitated to post this recipe. I worry that it comes dangerously close to Frito Pies or one never-to-be-forgotten summer camp dish: corned beef hash and canned corn mashed up together in a frying pan and covered in ketchup.  That’s not to say both weren’t delicious--especially if you were hungry teenager on a camping trip.  Although we like to think that as we’ve aged, we’ve outgrown these kind of campfire concoctions, we were drawn to "Meatzza".  It's from Nigella Lawson’s latest cookbook, "Nigellissima” (Clarkson Potter 2012). “Meatzza”, as you can likely guess, contains some elements of Pizza. Pizza is my idea of the perfect food because it hits every element in the pyramid--protein, dairy, vegetable and those carbs in the crust.  That alone might make me want to try "Meatzza".  But to choose it as the first recipe out of the 120 Ms. Lawson’s 8th cookbook contains, requires some further explanation. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sauteed Trout with Lemon-Chile Butter adapted from Food and Wine Magazine


Sauteed Trout Photo Courtesy of Food and Wine Magazine
Brook Trout 
I try to serve fish once a week.  Its health benefits are well known and even its fat content is healthy—it comes in the form of Omega-3 fatty acids which not only protect your heart, they also raise your good cholesterol level.  And almost nothing  is as easy to cook in as little time as a piece of fish.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed but salmon and tuna prices are hitting the roof—especially if you’re like me and prefer wild-caught fish.  So you can imagine how pleased I was to discover that Trout is amazingly affordable.  I bought a whole fish for $9.20, which the fishmonger filleted and skinned for me to give me the two beautiful filets I needed.  I had to break my rule against farmed fish but I learned something about trout fish farming in the process.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Turkish Lamb Pita Pizzas adapted from Semsa Denizsel in Food and Wine Magazine



        Need I tell you, we didn’t have lamb for Easter.  Instead we had one of our glorious whole, bone-in hams, with a side of Kielbasa.  As much as we enjoyed our feast, I had lamb on my mind when we came back to the city.  A couple of weeks ago, I’d found a recipe for Lamb Pizza.  Pizza, I need not tell you, has pretty well taken over the world.  And apparently Turkey is no exception.  This particular pizza is the work of a woman named Semsa Denizsel who owns a take-out food shop and restaurant in Istanbul called Kantin.  Chef Denizsel is no stranger to Food and Wine Magazine, which is where I encountered her recipe. She’s provided them with four of her recipes so far.  I am sure there are more coming as Ms. Denizsel is acquiring a reputation as an authority on Turkish Cuisine.  Kantin is located in Istanbul’s poshest neighborhood.  Now 13 years old, the focus of the food there is simple, honest and homemade.  The Chef is a complete locavore and a seasonal cook.  So even when something like eggplant floods the markets of Istanbul, if it isn’t locally grown or in season you won’t find it at Kantin.  What you will find is inventive cooking like these lamb pizzas spiced with red pepper and sweetened with sun-dried tomatoes.  Topped with an egg and baked in a hot oven, they’re elevate a simple week night supper into an adventure.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Perfect Patty Melt and it's most imperfect imitator, "The Midtown Melt"



        
Last week, I had the strongest craving for a Patty Melt.  I confess that the Patty Melt is far and away my absolute favorite chopped meat sandwich. You must never call a Patty Melt a hamburger because to purists, the Patty Melt is emphatically not one.  To those afficianados like me, it has just four non-negotiable elements that set it apart from any hamburger or cheeseburger: A beef patty, rye bread, sautéed onions and Swiss cheese.  There can be no deviation from this ingredient list.  Furthermore, the patty must be oval to match the shape of the rye bread. The rye bread must be griddled, never toasted.  The onions must be sliced very thin and cooked until caramelized.  The cheese offers a little flexibility: it can be Swiss or Gruyere or a mixture of the two, grated or sliced.   What emerges from this recipe is decadently rich; the cheese permeating the bread and meat and that crisp, buttered rye bread is essential to the character of the dish, its aroma inextricably linked to the pleasure of the Patty Melt.  It’s completely decadent, there’s no denying it.  And there’s also no denying that I tried to resist it all last week.  I even went vegan.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mediterranean Diet 101: Chorizo and Cannellini Stew adapted from Bon Appetit


         The Mediterranean Diet is back in the news with some startling test results.  If you switch to a diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables and drink wine with meals, the diet will prevent about 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and death from heart disease.  The European doctors who conducted the study ended it earlier than expected. They thought it was unethical to continue. The results were so clear, the doctors felt that group not following the diet was at too great a risk.   Not one of the people in the study were in great shape. All 7447 of them were overweight or smokers or had diabetes or some other factor that put them at risk for heart disease.  Most of them were already taking blood pressure medication or cholesterol lowering drugs.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Brussels Sprouts and Steak Stir Fry from Bon Appetit


         Confession time: I used to loathe Brussels Sprouts. When I was growing up, I even made up a story to explain the Brussels Sprout.  It was, I told myself, a vegetable forced on wartime Europe.  I reasoned this lowly member of the cabbage family was so undesirable, it escaped the ration book.   What it was doing in post-World War II Canada was beyond all understanding.  My attitude towards Brussels Sprouts remained unchanged until only recently.  Two things  changed my mind.  The first was the Brussels Sprouts my cooking pals like Keith and Jeff served recently were not just palatable, they were downright good. And I would likely make a special trip out to the beach to dive into Almond Restaurants' "Brussels Sprouts Two Ways".  The second was that when searching for local late season produce, our Hamptons farm stands are positively rife with Brussels Sprouts.  Of course, the farm stands have long been closed for the season.  But the Brussels Sprouts are green and glorious in the supermarket—even if they hail from much further than Bridgehampton.  And when I was doing some research into the Brussels Sprout, I discovered why those Canadian Brussels Sprouts of long ago weren’t at all what I was raving about today. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Rigatoni with Hot Sausage and Fennel from Gourmet Magazine


First Issue of Gourmet, January 1941
         How we still miss Gourmet!  Some of my earliest childhood memories are listening to my father reading aloud as he and my mother ate vicariously at Gourmet’s table.  The magazine first appeared in 1941.  The United States entered the war shortly thereafter.  Subscribers were urged to keep their issues until the war ended. That way Gourmet’s readers could try the recipes without wartime rationing. While devoted to food and wine, Gourmet also covered “Good Living” which meant that many of my parent’s annual vacations were built around Gourmet’s take on Madrid or Lisbon or London. As to its recipes, while the country wallowed in dishes involving cans of cream of mushroom soup, Gourmet took the high road. I can still hear my father reading, on the subject of Peking Duck, “first wring the bird by its neck until it is dead”.  Gourmet was nothing if not complete.  In many ways, Gourmet was well ahead of its time.  This was driven home to me with this take on pasta from 1990.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mario Batali's Ziti with Tuna and Salami



         I love pasta and I am always on the lookout for a new and different way to prepare it.   There are sauces that require hours on the stove and that are best made in huge batches. “Bolognese” falls into that camp. Whatever the recipe, there is something so entirely comforting about a pot of “Sunday gravy”, which is what many New York Italians still call their grandmother’s spaghetti sauce.  Stewing away on the stove all day, it requires an occasional stir and multiple tastings and sends out aromas that perfume the air with oregano, tomatoes and basil.  When it finally makes its way to the table, the anticipation has been cooking right along with it all day.  There’s inevitably enough left over to freeze or simply hide away in the fridge for a weeknight second helping. 
      Then there are the sauces that come together quickly enough to make a perfect weeknight dinner.  There are quite a few of these if you look under Pasta in our recipe list.  We lean heavily on the classics –Carbonara, Linguine with Clam Sauce, Linguine with Lemon Garlic Shrimp (better known as Shrimp Scampi).  But when I found this recipe from the incomparable Mario Batali, I’d never heard of any pasta dish like it.  And this is from someone who lived in Italy.   It’s from the Chef’s “Simple Family Meals”  (Harper Collins 2011).  Once I made it, I loved it. The dish blends the taste of very high-end canned tuna with the spicy counterplay of salami and red pepper flakes all wrapped up in a simple onion-y tomato sauce.  Extra points go to the ease with which you can make it.  It’s one of those under 30 minute wonders which deliver far more taste than their cooking time would indicate.   But I was still puzzled that I’d never heard of anything like it.  So I went to google.it to see if I could find the roots of Chef Batali’s creation.