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

Friday, December 19, 2014

Carla Hall's Spiced Lamb and Potato Pie

        

Who can forget Carla Hall? Twice a contestant on Top Chef, she was voted “Fan Favorite” her second time around, which is equivalent to being named “Miss Congeniality” in the old Miss America days.  She was lots of fun to watch and never an unkind word came out of her mouth, a trait sadly missing from Top Chefs most of the time.  She made it all the way to the finals, her recipe for Chicken Pot Pie landing her an appearance on Jimmy Fallon.   Sadly she suffered major equipment failures in the finals and was bounced off the show.  But talk about bouncing back.  She is now a fixture on ABC’s “The Chew” where she enlivens the proceedings with her philosophy of ‘Cooking with Love’ which became the name of her first Book subtitled ‘Comfort Food that hugs you’ (Simon and Schuster 2012).   Since “The Chew” is taped within walking distance of our New York apartment, I was not surprised to see Chef Hall in our local supermarket where she greeted one all with her fabulous smile.  My next encounter with Carla was in Food and Wine’s “Chef’s Easy Weeknight Dinners” (Time Affluent Media Group 2014).  Her contribution to the book is a Mediterranean influenced riff on Shepherd’s Pie.  And it’s well worth the 45 minutes it takes to make the whole thing.

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Brunswick Stew with Rotisserie Chicken


Costco's $4.99 Chicken 
 
In our continuing series of quick weeknight dinners leading up to Christmas, I couldn’t ignore the charms of Rotisserie Chicken.  I cannot go into Costco without buying one of their birds, beautifully cooked and an amazing bargain at $4.99.   I’ve made this chicken into sandwiches and salads and I’ve sliced off parts to eat all by themselves when I am all by myself.   Last week, I brought one home and searched around for a recipe that would fall into our dinner-on-the-table-in-no-time criteria.  Almost immediately, I came upon a recipe labeled “Brunswick Stew”.  To be honest, it landed squarely in Sandra Lee territory but it fit the bill.  Rotisserie chicken is skinned and shredded.  Everything else came out of a can or the freezer and the mixture was then seasoned, stirred into a Dutch oven, brought to a boil then simmered on the stove for 45 minutes.  Just enough time for a Cocktail!  Or a look into the origins of Brunswick Stew.  It must be named for Brunswick Georgia, I thought to myself. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Evan and Sarah Rich's Grilled Strip Steaks with Green Bean Chimichurri



Food and Wine has just come out with another of its compendiums of recipes, this one titled “Chef’s Easy Weeknight Dinners” (Time Inc. Affluent Media Group 2014).  There are all kinds of recipes here from soups to seafood, side dishes to desserts.  What strikes me is their overall simplicity.   Apparently, Chefs are every bit as time-pressured as the rest of us.  Or perhaps more so.  Can you imagine cooking all day and then going home and doing it all over again?   That’s likely why the book is loaded with recipes none of which take over 55 minutes to make, the majority even less than that. So in keeping with my promise of pre-holiday meals that are full of flavor and not so full of effort, today’s recipe is for a main dish that’s hard to beat for simplicity.  It’s Steak and it takes all of 35 minutes to get on the table.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lazy Man's Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese


        


At our house, we seem to have gone into high Christmas gear this week. So I have decided to feature posts from now until the big day that minimize your time in the kitchen and maximize the flavor you get out of some terrific recipes all that come together in under an hour at most.   The first is a Lasagne recipe that knocked me out. I have to confess to having been a terrible Lasagna snob.  I think true lasagna is rich in b├ęchamel sauce, with a ragu that’s been melding flavors for hours in an all-afternoon of cooking and reducing and tasting.  My kitchen has been draped with crinkle-edged lasagna noodles parboiled on the stove more times than I can remember.  And I still make lasagna that way.  Not for me the Americanized versions that I’d been subjected to at some long-ago student dinners.  The version I found most awful was the one with cottage cheese.  But I was craving a baked pasta dish when I came across a recipe in Bon Appetit that gave a prep time of 45 minutes and then baked for another 45.  This sounded very do-able on a weeknight.  But believe it or not, I managed to cut the time down to a little over an hour!  And this lasagna, while hardly authentic Italian, is absolutely terrific.  It’s so good, it should be emailed to everyone in the family who says they can’t cook.  It’s so good, it would convince a girl to marry the guy who made it.   And since this recipe is for 4 servings, you won’t be left eating a huge pan of lasagna until Spring.  Served with a green salad, it’s a dinner not to be forgotten.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bourbon Chicken

        

The other day I was on the lookout for something quick to cook, which Chinese food almost always is. I like cooking Chinese food at home.  You can keep the notoriously high fat counts down and never worry for a moment whether your food contains MSG.  I came across a recipe for Bourbon Chicken.  The first thing I noted was that there was no bourbon in Bourbon Chicken.  Then I read the recipe sharer’s note stating that a Chinese cook working in a restaurant on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street developed the original recipe.  I took that at face value and proceeded to cook the dish. It really is one of those sweet and spicy stir- fries that I find addictive. They turn an ingredient as inexpensive and mundane as skinless chicken into something exotic and, in this case, truly worth making and eating.   And besides who wouldn’t want to try a recipe that had received no less that 2800 reviews on www.food.com, which is where I found it.  Having enjoyed it so much and wanting to pass it on, I went back to find out all I could about that Chinese Chef on Bourbon Street.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Whole Grain Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms from Giada de Laurentiis

         
The stalks of Brussels Sprouts made their appearance at the farm stand a couple of weeks ago.   Because the weather here has been unusually warm, Brussels Sprouts seemed a little out of season.  But with the temperatures falling, it was time to find something to do with them.  Let’s face it, Brussels Sprouts are a love-them-or-hate-them vegetable.  Nobody is on the fence about them.  Recently they seem to have surged in popularity but I’ve never been sure this was about the sprouts themselves or whether it was a reaction to the countless recipes that paired them with bacon or roasted them in maple syrup or shredded them into Brussels Sprouts Two Ways (see http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2014/01/almonds-brussels-sprouts-hot-and-cold.html) which is reason alone to head out to dinner at Almond (1 Ocean Road, Bridgehampton NY Tel (631) 537-8885).
         That recipe made me a convert to these tiny cabbages. Wanting to see if I could expand my repertoire, I poked around and lo and behold, I came across a recipe that made them into a pasta sauce.  Furthermore, it was a vegetarian dish made even more healthy by the use of Whole Grain Spaghetti.  This dish could even make it onto Almond’s Meatless Monday menu!  But I could save myself a 100 mile drive  from the city and make it at home.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mario Batali's Chicken Saltimbocca with Asparagus


Mario Batali 
         A few months ago, I went to my friend Monique’s for lunch.  She served a phenomenal dish that Chef Mario Batali had offered up in Food and Wine Magazine.  Ever since I went to school in Rome, I’ve loved Saltimbocca alla Romana, the Roman version of a dish popular from southern Switzerland to all the way down to the capital city.  Saltimbocca translates to ‘jump in the mouth’ which is about as high praise as any dish can get.  The original dish uses Veal topped with prosciutto and sage.  In Rome, chefs add another dimension by rolling up the veal, prosciutto
Expensive but worth every penny.
and sage and cooking the rolls in dry white wine.  Sweet Marsala wine is an option but most Roman chefs think this overpowers the delicate flavor of the Veal.  Mario Batali has substituted chicken cutlets and he makes his sauce using Vin Santo, literally Holy Wine, a sweet dessert wine from Tuscany.  And there lies the reason why I had waited all these months to make the dish.  It was well worth the wait.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Salmon with Mustard Sauce and a Cannellini Bean Ragu

  

Salmon is a true workhorse in the world of seafood.  It is on menus everywhere and seems to come from an endless number of places around the world.  On my most recent visit to the market to pick up the fish to make this dish, I saw no less than 5 different salmon offerings ranging in price from 19.99 lb. for Norwegian Wild-Caught Salmon to Farm-Raised Fish from Chile at 7.99 a lb.  In between, there was Canadian Wild Caught and Farm Raised and Pacific Salmon of undermined origin.  Salmon is, of course, a marvel of nutrition containing those all-important Omega 3 Fatty Acids.   If somehow you’ve missed the news, these particular Fatty Acids lower your risk of heart disease.  But that isn’t half of what they do according to WebMD.com.  They can curb stiffness and the pain of arthritis in the joints.  Countries where they are consumed at high levels have lower levels of depression.  They aid in Baby Development, improve lung function among Asthmatics, reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Syndrome, improving children’s mental skills like thinking, remembering and learning and finally, there is even research that suggests Omega 3s protect against Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  If you haven’t immediately run out and bought a giant piece of salmon, caveat emptor: Farm raised salmon is not the fount of Omega 3s that Wild Salmon is.  So when you buy salmon, try to buy wild caught if your budget will allow.

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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Turkey Meat Loaves with Red Pepper Sauce


         I first wrote this post way back in 2010 when the blog was still quite new.  This year, Memorial Day put a crimp in my writing as we were up to our ears in gardening and celebrating the start of our being in the Hamptons more and more. So when I went searching for something to share with you today, I came across this recipe. It surprised me to see that it never attracted an audience because it really is worth making.  Even if you, like me, have very little fondness for ground turkey.  I’ll grant all those who extoll its low-fat virtues that it’s about as low as you can go, but to me it’s also low on taste and low on juice and low on my list of things I love to cook.  But an article in an old Food and Wine intrigued me.  It was entitled “French food that won’t make you fat”.  Now there’s something I can sink my teeth into.  And it has a very solid pedigree.  Its inventor is the chef Sandro Gamba who cooked under Joel Robichon and Alain Ducasse, was Food and Wine magazine’s Best New Chef of 2001.        
        Apparently tired of rendering French classics at Nomi, in Chicago’s Park Hyatt Hotel, Chef Gamba quit his job and began to look for a place where he could cook “cleaner” and healthier versions of his mentors’ specialties.  He landed at the Four Seasons in Westlake Village, CA which welcomed his healthy approach at all five restaurants on the property.  Unfortunately, visa problems sent him back to France where he spent two years at Sofitel headquarters as their Corporate Chef.  From there he went on to Geneva where he was the Food and Beverage director at the Intercontinental. Now, and for the last two years, he's been the Executive Chef at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.  I have to wonder if he's introduced his staff of 300 (!) to the virtues of his turkey meatloaf.  But I do know I'd like to re-introduce it to you.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Chicken Paella with Sugar Snap Peas in about an hour!



        There's no one dish supper quite on the level of a great paella.  It combines protein--sometimes several of them--with carbohydrates and then, for good measure, adds some vegetables. The one big drawback to paella is the interminable time a good one takes to make.  So this recipe from Bon Appetit caught my eye when the magazine put it in a feature called ‘Fresh and Easy Dinners’. It actually toppped their list, and was pictured on their cover.  If you’re ever had a paella in Spain, you know it is hardly ‘quick’ and involves a special paella pan. But this one uses any heavy skillet you have on hand and gets dinner on the table in about an hour.  Considering my memories of paella, that's simply astonishing.

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. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chicken with Shallots from Sam Sifton in the New York Times Sunday Magazine via Rishia Zimmern adapted from Martha Stewart


Sam Sifton 
As fond as I am of the current food crew at The New York Times, I still miss Sam Sifton.  He was the Deputy Dining Editor in 2001 when he was almost instantly tapped to become the Dining Editor a position he held till 2004.  He was with the Times a Culture Editor from then until 2009.  That year he took over from Frank Bruni and became the Restaurant Critic for the Times.  The burnout rate for that job is high: Sifton ate out almost nightly until his last restaurant review appeared almost two years to the day that he started.  But for all of us who miss him, Sifton has graced the Food page of the New York Times Sunday magazine periodically ever since.  And one of those times was a recent Sunday when the recipe I am sharing today appeared.  It was wildly popular--so popular in fact that one of its key ingredients completely disappeared from some grocery stores.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Leftover Lessons: "Greek" Lamb with Orzo or Orecchiette

"Greek" Lamb with Orzo
"Greek" Lamb with Oricchiette
        
Amanda (l.) and Merrill (r.)
Food 52 is a food ‘community’ headed by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs.  Amanda is likely most famous from having edited the Essential New York Times Cookbook, the 2010 revision of the original New York Times Cookbook.  Since she was following in the footsteps of none other than Craig Clairborne, it was some task.  I personally was very pleased to see that Ms. Hesser included the recipe for Monte’s Ham, which first appeared in the Times in 1998.  Food52 has a vibrant on-line recipe share to which bloggers and home cooks from all over contribute.         

Some months ago, I was intrigued by a post for a Lamb dish which topped a bed of lemon-flavored Orzo.  The dish came from a Food52 contributer who signs herself ‘Fiveandspice’ (www.fiveandspice.com).  Along with the recipe came the story of its origins. Fiveandspice’s Mother had seen it in a magazine and incorporated it into her family’s bill of fare.  Since the family was good solid Norwegian stock living in Minnesota, the original "Greek" Lamb with Orzo provided quite a contrast to their usual Norwegian meatballs and fish cakes. I'm not sure my friend Phillip, whose background and cooking is authentically Greek, would attach a Greek flag to the original recipe, but in Minnesota it was positively Pelopponesian. And remained so until Fiveandspice encountered April Bloomfield’s recipe for lamb meatballs in a spicy sauce.  I can always endorse anything Chef Bloomfield does with lamb—see http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2010/04/visit-to-april-bloomfields-breslin-and.html.  What Fiveandspice did was to revisit her Mother’s recipe incorporating both Chef Bloomfield’s techniques and, I would say, ingredients.  I’d been waiting for the weather to call for heartier dishes and this winter has over delivered on cold, snow, ice and the overwhelming desire to stay indoors until, say, April.  So I set out to make Fiveandspice’s Lamb with Orzo.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Poached Salmon with Minted Yogurt Sauce


Cooking is often the most Zen activity of my day. Especially when I come across a recipe that is elegant in its simplicity, beautiful to look at as I am preparing it and finally, a wonderful experience when it is eaten.  This recipe, which came from Food and Wine, falls right into that category.  It’s so soothing looking that I made its cooking the main illustration above.  With its parsley and dill branches looking like reeds in a stream, it’s a treat just to look at.  But the surprise came when we tasted our first bites.

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.         

Monday, January 13, 2014

Herb-Crusted Cod with Lemon-Dill Beurre Blanc Sauce

       
What’s wonderful about this dish is that its name alone sounds as if you’ve gone to an inordinate amount of trouble making it.  In reality, it’s one of the easiest things on earth to get on the table.  This recipe is as close as I could come to a dish that’s an all-time favorite at Sag Harbor’s “Dockside” restaurant.  Now “Dockside” at 26 Bay Street (Tel: 631-725-7100) is an anomaly. It’s situated in one half of the American Legion Hall. Dockside’s bar is decorated with the crests of the service branches the Legion represents.  Believe it or not, there’s a dearth of places in the Hamptons with water views.  While Dockside is not port side, it is right across the road from the yachts and sailboats moored and docked at the Sag Harbor Yacht Club.  It has an outdoor
terrace that’s a wonderful place for lunch on a sunny day. And for small town Americana, what could beat the Sag Harbor Community Band’s Tuesday night concerts?  These are held directly in front of the Legion every Tuesday in July and August. If you’ve lucky enough to snag a table at Dockside, which does not take reservations, you’ll be serenaded with rousing music in the style of John Phillip Sousa. “Dockside” is a second generation restaurant owned by Stacy Sheehan’s father before Stacy took over and transformed the place from a hamburger joint into a really great place to eat wonderful local food.  Among the offerings is a version of Herb-Crusted Cod with Lemon Beurre Blanc.  Now that Dockside has closed down for the season and won’t reopen until February 13 th, I couldn’t wait to make this at home.  But first, of course, I had to check on the cod.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sichuan Stir-Fried Pork in Garlic Sauce with Mushrooms, Water Chestnuts and Snap Peas


         There’s a Sichuan restaurant close to home in New York that I go to more frequently than I’d like to admit.  There’s a big “B” in the window which means The New York City Board of Health has some "issues" with the place.  In my view, if they haven’t closed it down, and I haven’t experienced any problems after eating there, I’m good to go.  I would have to say this mainly has to do with the fact that the lunch special comes in at $6.75 and includes a choice of soups or egg or spring rolls, three kinds of rice and finally, about 20 main dishes all fairly standard Sichuan fare.  Every one I have tried has never disappointed.   The place also has a Japanese menu and a prominent sushi bar.  I choose to believe that the “B” was assigned to that end of the restaurant.  I am happy to spend so little for such traditional Sichuan dishes as Pork in Garlic Sauce. In fact I like it so much, that this weekend I made it at home.  Once you get the hang of stir-frying, there’s no limit to your kitchen creativity. And if there was one technique that I could pass on to harried, time-pressured home cooks, it would be the stir-fry.  And you don’t need a wok, just a big non-stick frying pan.

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, August 26, 2013

Scallop Saltimbocca with Golden Delicious Apples


        When I lived in Rome, Saltimbocca was an introduction to the cuisine of the city itself.   “Saltimbocca alla Romana” featured veal, topped with Prosciutto and Sage in a Marsala and butter sauce.   It was very good and, because of its ingredients, more expensive than most entrees at the trattorias where we ate as students.  It was, therefore, a treat reserved for the days right after our allowances arrived from home.  
       Saltimbocca means “jump in the mouth” although I could never figure out if that was because the taste ‘jumped’ in your mouth or because the dish was so delicious, you literally couldn’t wait to eat it.  Either way, I love Saltimbocca.  So the other day, when I was looking for something quick and easy to cook, I gravitated to a Tyler Florence recipe (again) that featured Scallops, instead of veal, and a lemon, olive oil and butter sauce in lieu of the Marsala and butter sauce of my student days.  It is well worth repeating here.