I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pork Blade Roast and Celery Root Puree

Hope everyone has been having a wonderful holiday season. Joe and I had a quiet but really nice Christmas day here in the city. We saw Pina (a lovely film tribute to Modern dancer/choreographer Pina Bausch), but mostly spent the day eating and drinking. Homemade cinnamon rolls, coffee, lox, bone marrow on toast, fried potatoes, dry-aged rib eye roast, Scotch, wine...pretty decadent day. Really the only thing that would have made the day better is the addition of family. Hate being so far from home around the holidays. I think the older I get the harder it becomes (plus I really hate watching all of those babies--of friends and family--grow up from afar. I want them to know who I am!).

This was not served in the midst of all of the food extravagance but would have made a nice meal for the day as well. Vegetable purees always seem to lend an elegant note to a meal, giving a "restaurant quality" touch. The brightness of the creamy celery root puree also helps to cut through the richness of the pork blade roast.

Pork Blade Roast

2 lb. tied pork blade roast (boneless)
2 t. herbs de Provence
1/2 t. fennel pollen
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 onion
1/4 c. dry vermouth
1/2 c. cream
2 TB butter

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Mix together the herbs de Provence, fennel pollen, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Rub this mixture all over the pork roast.
Cut the onion into 4 wedges and place them into a large dutch oven. Place the blade roast on top of these onions (using them as a "roasting rack"). Pour about 1/2 c. water into the bottom of the pot. Place the roast into the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Cook for about 20 minutes and then check on the roast--you want to make sure there is always a little bit of water in the bottom of the pot. Add a little more as necessary. You want to cook until the roast reaches an internal temperature of 145-150 degrees (it should take about 50-55 minutes after turning down the oven temperature).
Remove the roast from the dutch oven and cover and set aside for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Remove and discard the onions. Place the dutch oven onto the stove top over medium-high heat. Add the vermouth and deglaze the pan. Then add the cream and allow to cook down for about 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the butter, remove from the heat and salt and pepper to taste. Serve drizzled over top of the sliced pork roast.

Celery Root Puree
5 small celery roots (about 3" in diameter)
2 small potatoes
1/4 onion, chopped
3 cloves peeled garlic
2 1/2 c. milk
4 c. water
salt and pepper
1 stick butter
1 t. lemon juice

Peel and chop the celery roots and potatoes. Place both into a large pot along with the onion, garlic, milk and water and a good shake of salt. Place on the stove top and bring to a boil. Cook until the celery root and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes or so. 
Once tender, drain off all of the liquid, then place the solids into a blender/food processor along with the stick of butter. Puree until smooth. Then add the lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Candy Making

For years now I have wanted to get together with a group of friends around the holidays and spend the whole day making candy. Every year, though, the season passes in a whirl of busy days and next thing I know the holiday has passed. This year a few girlfriends and I finally nailed down a date that we were all (relatively) free in the crazy weeks before Christmas and got down to business making candy.

We decided to each choose 2 recipes and bring the ingredients we would need for those. We also brought 3 copies of each of the recipes so we could all take them home. We ended up with mounds and mounds of lovely treats. Plus it was a great excuse to get together, chat, drink far too much coffee and prosecco (which, when combined with far too much sugar, causes some crazy reactions). For lunch we had a spread of cheeses, meats, crackers and tapenade.

The bounty:
Analisa Cookies (recipe below)
Pecan Clusters (recipe below)

Peanut Brittle
Apple Cider Caramels 
Oreo Truffles
Spiced Pecans
Christmas Biscotti

I had a wonderful time and am hoping that we can make this an annual tradition.

Analisa Cookies
(recipe from my friend Mary's family)
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. real butter
1 egg
2 tsp. almond extract
3 1/2 c. sifted flours
chopped slivered almonds

2 1/2 TB very soft butter (not melted)
1 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 TB milk
1/2 t. almond extract

Cream together sugar and butter. Add egg and almond extract. Beat well. Stir in flour, mix well. Refrigerate overnight, or until dough is stiff.
Roll the dough out to 1/8" thickness (using flour when working the dough). Cut with two cookie cutters (one slightly larger than the other. You will want 1/2 slightly larger and 1/2 slightly smaller cookies). Place the larger cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and add a small amount of lingonberries to center. Put the smaller cookies on top and lightly seal the edges. Bake at 375 degrees until slightly brown, 5-8 minutes. Cool before frosting.
Mix the frosting ingredients together. Use to frost the cool cookies, then sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Pecan Clusters/Pecan Critters
(recipe also courtesy of Mary's family)
1 (11 1/2 oz) Pkg. chocolate chips
1/4 c. butter
1/8 t. salt
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
2 c. coarsely chopped pecans
pecan halves

Over medium heat melt chips and butter with sweetened condensed milk and salt. Remove from heat once melted and stir in nuts and vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper lined baking sheets. Top each one with 1 pecan half. Chill. Store tightly covered in a cool area.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Entertaining Meal Prep Tips

I am so very late on this post, but as there are other holiday entertaining opportunities to come, I figure it can't hurt to go ahead and post it. Plus, I redo this for myself every year so why not just put it down it a place I can come back to. So here are my steps to preparing Thanksgiving dinner (plus the recipe for the Cran-cherry Sauce and Garlic Roasted Mashed Sweet Potatoes and my favorite Roast Turkey).

Step 1: Menu Planning.
The first thing I always do when hosting a gathering is to decide what to serve. These days I usually have a few vegetarians in the mix so I need to make sure there is enough for everyone to eat. I gather up all of the recipes I will need into one place. This step also includes deciding what you would like to have others bring/contribute to the meal. This year I had one friend volunteer to make the desserts (3 unbelievable pies) and everyone else brought wine (lots and lots of wine).
Thanksgiving 2011 Menu
Roasted Peanuts
Chips and French Onion Dip
Maple Bourbon Pickles

Entrees and Sides
Fall Vegetable Patties (vegetarian option)
Green Bean Casserole
Spinach in Beurre Blanc
Grandma's Dinner Rolls
Mashed Potatoes
Garlic Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Cran-cherry Sauce

Eggnog Ice Cream

Step 2: Shopping Lists and Purchasing
Here I go through all the recipes I have compiled and list which ingredients I am going to need to pick up. This gives me the chance to go through the pantry and double check that I have all of the staples that I need as well.
I usually end up doing a couple of shopping trips to pick everything up. I start with drinks and non-perishables the week or so before the event, and buy the perishables about 4 or so days before.
There are certain items you need to think of even farther in advance--like the turkey or ham for the big holidays. I ordered my turkey this year towards the end of October/beginning of November from Brooklyn Victory Garden. They brought in turkeys from the local Oink and Gobble Farms.

Step 3: Set Cooking Plan and begin pre-preparations.
Next up I decide which items I can start cooking/prepare in the days before the event and which need to be done at the last minute. Here's what I cooked in the days leading up to Thanksgiving:
2 Days Before:
Make Cranberry Sauce
Make the ice cream base and refrigerate
Make turkey stock from turkey neck
Caramelize onions for dip

1 Day Before: 
Make dinner rolls
Make ice cream
Prep veggie patties
Boil potatoes and rice them
Roast sweet potatoes and mash
Make onion dip
Tie and rub/prepare turkey

Day of:
Cook turkey (once cooked allow to sit before carving and drain juices and separate to use for gravy)
Prep green bean casserole and cook
Set out serving wares
Set out appetizers/drinks

Last minute (the final prep before serving--this is a great time to learn how to delegate and ask for help from you guests!):
Reheat potatoes and mix with milk and butter
Reheat sweet potatoes and mix with milk and butter
Make beurre blanc and add spinach
Make gravy
Fry veggie patties

Step 4: Enjoy!
Don't forget to take the time to enjoy your own meal and your company. Proper planning before the event allows you that time. You can leave the dishes for later after the guests have gone.

Cran-cherry Sauce
1 package fresh or frozen cranberries (12 oz)
1 1/4 c. cherry juice
3/4 c. turbinado sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup
zest from 1 lemon
zest from 1 orange
1/2 stick of cinnamon
1/8 c. fresh squeezed orange juice

Mix together the cranberries, cherry juice, turbinado sugar, maple syrup, lemon and orange zest and the cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium-high, bringing the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium to allow the sauce to simmer. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, remove the cinnamon stick, then stir in the orange juice. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Garlic Roasted Mashed Sweet Potatoes
sweet potatoes
whole garlic cloves
fresh sage leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper

milk/heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 375.
Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into 1 1/2" cubes. Toss together with a few whole cloves of garlic, whole sage leaves, salt and pepper.
Spread the sweet potatoes, garlic and sage onto sheet pans in a single layer. Roast for about 45-60 minutes, tossing every so often, until the sweet potatoes are tender and slightly brown.
Once the potatoes are roasted, mash together with the garlic and sage and mix with milk or cream and butter. Add more salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

Roasted Turkey

This is how I've prepared my turkey for the past two years and it has turned out really juicy and delicious. The first thing I do is pull out the neck and giblets. A couple of days before Thanksgiving I use the neck and vegetables to make a turkey stock. I save the giblets for the gravy and use the liver to make a pate (great for  an appetizer or quick, simple dinner).

The day before Thanksgiving I mix together some room temperature butter with fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme), and maybe some minced garlic or fennel pollen. Then I lift the skin of the turkey and rub this mixture underneath, between the skin and meat, avoiding rubbing it on the outside of the skin. Then I salt and pepper the outside of the turkey well (sprinkling some salt and pepper into the cavity of the turkey as well). Then I place the turkey on the roasting rack in the roasting pan and put the whole thing into the refrigerator uncovered overnight (this helps to dry out the skin of the bird, making it extra crispy once roasted).

The next morning I get up and turn on the oven to 475 degrees. Once the oven is preheated I place the bird in for 20 minutes. Then I take about 1/2-3/4 c. of turkey stock and add it to the bottom of the roasting pan and turn down the oven temperature to 275 degrees. I will then allow the turkey to cook until the thigh meat reaches 160 degrees (this takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes per pound. Check the temperature often). 

While the turkey is cooking I heat up turkey stock in a saucepan to a boil, then add the giblets. I allow these to simmer for about 45 minutes, then remove the giblets.

When the turkey has reached temperature I pull the turkey out of the oven and use the roasting rack to tilt it up towards its side to allow the juices on the inside of the bird to drain out. Then I set the bird aside and cover. The juices I place into my pyrex measuring cup and allow the fat to separate from the juices. Once it separates I use a spoon to carefully take off the fat and place into a separate bowl. To make the gravy I will use some of this fat made into a roux with flour, then add the juices, then add the giblet soaked turkey stock to finish it off.

Once the turkey has rested for around 20-30 minutes it is time to carve and serve.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tortellini Soup

'Tis the season for colds and flu's....so therefore also the season for brothy soups. The husband was home sick from work yesterday so I wanted to make him something comforting and easy to eat, but I knew that I needed something that would be hearty enough to help me make it through a long Friday night at work. So I came up with this tortellini soup. It is so simple to put together, is flavorful without being overpowering, and is just as delicious for a weekday lunch or dinner as it is for a sick-day meal.

Tortellini Soup
2 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
32 oz. chicken stock
2 1/2 c. water
8.8 oz. dried tortellini (I went with spinach and ricotta)
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender and translucent. The add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add the carrots and celery and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and water to the pot and turn the heat up to high to bring the liquid to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook until tender, about 13-15 minutes. Salt and pepper the soup to taste and serve.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grape and Blue Cheese Pizza and Raclette Potatoes

I am already excited about Christmas this year. Normally I'm not one of those people. I need time to celebrate Thanksgiving, enjoy the fall, and then once December hits, I'm good to go to prep and feel the Christmas joy. I'm not sure what it is, but something is different this year.

It's not that I am not excited about Thanksgiving, because I can't wait for the intimate gathering we are going to be having with friends. And Fall has been absolutely lovely this year, with wonderful weather and the trees having time to turn into an exceptional display of color. Perhaps it's just the fact that last year I never really got into the holiday feeling so somehow it feels like it's been two years since I last had Christmas.

Whatever the reason, I can't wait to put up Christmas decorations, listen to Christmas music (especially She and Him's new Christmas Album!!), and Joe and I may send out Christmas cards for the first time ever this year! The one thing that I'm sad about is the fact that we will be staying in the city this year instead of heading home to be with family. Joe and I have a really nice time doing this (picture starting off the day with breakfast and coffee with Bailey's and then moving on to lots and lots more food, wine, champagne, and maybe even a movie later in the day), but I am missing the family a lot--and will miss seeing my adorable nephew (who is almost 2) experiencing the day.

This meal would be a very nice one for Holiday entertaining. It's very simple, especially since the dough doesn't need time to rise (although you could also just purchase the pizza dough to make it even easier). The grapes I used were from my local farmer's market, where we get in a bunch of fun varieties (like Mars) from a local winery, but again you can use any seedless variety. The pizza is essentially a play on the fig and blue cheese combo, but the grapes are juicier and have a slightly brighter flavor than figs, giving a burst of flavor in every bite. The potatoes served alongside are just cooked through then tossed with a crunchy grain mustard and then topped off with creamy raclette cheese and broiled to make them gooey and fabulous.

Grape and Blue Cheese Pizza
makes 1 12" pizza
dough recipe (from Robbie's Recipe collection):

.25 oz. pkt. active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
3/4 cup 110 degree water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
pizza sauce - of your choice, as needed
shredded cheese - of your choice, as needed
toppings - of your choice, as needed

-Dissolve yeast and sugar in water; allow to rest for 8 minutes.
-In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt.
-Pour yeast mixture over flour mixture and mix well with a heavy spoon.
-Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
-Working from the edges to the center, press dough into a 12" circle.
-Place dough on a lightly greased pizza pan and stretch dough to edges.
-Spread sauce over crust and top with cheese and desired toppings.
-Bake in a 500 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, or until edges are golden.
Notes: To answer the most frequently-asked question I receive about this recipe: No, the dough does not have to rise - if it did, it wouldn't produce a thin crust.

For the pizza:

1 pizza dough
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/3 lb. crumbled blue cheese
6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1 c. seedless grapes
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Once you have formed the pizza dough into a 12" round, use a pastry brush to brush on the extra virgin olive oil.
Sprinkle on the blue cheese, then the bacon, grapes and top with the Parmesan cheese. Bake the pizza for about 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crusts are browned. Allow to cool for about 4-5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Raclette Potatoes

potatoes (preferably 1-1 1/2" small round potatoes, or larger potatoes cut into smaller pieces)
whole grain mustard
raclette cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until they are tender and cooked through (varies depending on size of potatoes).
Drain the potatoes and cool for a few minutes. Then toss with a good helping of the grain mustard and spread onto a baking sheet.
Sprinkle the grated raclette on top of the potatoes. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbling slightly. Remove from the broiler and serve.


These are my purchases over the last couple of weeks: Ferran Adria's "The Family Meal", Daniel Humm and Will Guidara's "Eleven Madison Park Cookbook" (signed by them both, by the way. Got to meet them when I picked up the book a few days early at Sur la Table), and the second edition of David Chang's "Lucky Peach". So much inspiration and beauty that my head may explode.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lamb and Cauliflower Curry

I oftentimes find myself in a slight food rut. It's not that I can't think of anything to have for dinner or can't come up with something new, it's just the recipes I do come up with seem to circulate the same themes or cuisines. I find it hard to break away from cooking things based on French, Italian, Spanish foods. This comes from a lack of knowledge in cuisines outside Western Europe, where food is much more within the confines of my comfort zone. I can slightly blame growing up in a place where the most exotic cuisine options nearby where China Buffet and Taco Hut, but now that I live in New York City I really have no excuse.

I've been better about getting out and trying food that isn't familiar to me and lately have been craving new dining experiences like an Ethiopian restaurant in the neighborhood I have been meaning to try and a Georgian restaurant in another Brooklyn neighborhood I was excited to find out about yesterday (where the menu is apparently in Russian). As I branch out more and more I hope my kitchen inspiration follows suit.

Perhaps in my journey to widen my horizon I will ask for a couple of ethnic cookbooks for Christmas and until then will start focusing in on some good blogs with unique perspectives. Any suggestions?

In the light of trying something new, I made this lamb and cauliflower curry. I had the lamb meat but wanted to do something different than a traditional stew, so scoured the internet and let the inspiration take over. It is my own take on the dish, and is fairly simple and unscary if you are looking to take the leap into unfamiliar cooking territory yourself.

Lamb and Cauliflower Curry
serves 5-6

1 TB cooking oil
1 lb lamb stew meat (chopped into 1 1/2" cubes")
salt and pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
4 TB finely chopped ginger
1 TB powdered curry
1/4 t. Chinese 5-spice
1/8 t. cardamom
1/4 t. chili powder
14 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
1 c. chicken stock
1 1/2 c. chopped cauliflower
1/2 c. golden raisins
1 c. spinach

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Sprinkle the lamb meat with salt and pepper and then, when the oil is hot, add the lamb to the pan. Sear quickly on all sides just to brown the outside of the meat and then remove the lamb from the pan and set aside.
Add the onion to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Next add the carrots and ginger and cook for about 5-6 minutes. Add the curry, Chinese 5-spice, cardamom and chili powder and stir for about a minute. Then add the coconut milk, chicken stock and lamb and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer until the lamb is super tender and could be pulled apart with a fork (about 1 hour or so). Add the cauliflower to the curry and cook until it is tender, about 8-10 minutes. Finally add the raisins and spinach and cook just until the spinach wilts, about 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve over top of rice or couscous.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Creamy Vegetable and Rice Soup

It has been a big month for me. The five year anniversary a few weeks ago, and then last week was a big birthday for me--30.

I know a lot of people freak out a little about beginning a new decade of their life as they get older, but I have felt pretty good about the transition to my 30's. Maybe I'm not exactly in my career of choice, but I do have a good job, a truly special, incredible husband, am surrounded by wonderful friends, and am living in one of the best cities on earth. Hard to be upset by that.

To celebrate the big day, I decided I wanted to do more than just get together at a bar with friends. So Joe and I planned out 3 days worth of celebrations. Day 1 we took the Metro North to the Appalachian Trail stop. Literally the train drops you off right on the trail. We spent the day hiking and taking in the gorgeous fall folliage and weather with some college friends. Then we all took the train back to Brooklyn for some margaritas and Mexican food.
My hiking buddies and I at the tiny train station.

Day 2 started with a 10 mile run with Joe. Followed by lunch at Tom's Diner (still one of my favorite restaurants in the city) and then we went on to Etsy's Craft Night, where we made paper mache masks. After the crafting we ended up at reBar in Dumbo where we met up with a bunch of great friends and drank the night away.

Day 3 was mostly spent on the couch--recovering. :) But finally we roused ourselves enough to get out for our final birthday experience: dinner at Torrisi Italian Specialties. This is an Italian restaurant located near Little Italy and Chinatown and is incredibly creative and an overall wonderful dining experience. Each night there is only one menu--you don't get to chose what you eat (except for a choice between entrees). We also had the option to add on some oysters--which we did. It was one of the most interesting and delicious meals I have had in a long time. I was most surprised by a dish with a smoked eggplant broth and by how wonderful the little plate of desserts was (flag cookies, cannoli, truffles, butternut squash squares--all sounds straight-forward, but they were packed with flavor). Overall, a pretty successful 30th birthday.
Torrisi Italian Specialties
The Menu.
The following day was one for recovery and simplicity. So we enjoyed this soup.

(Just a heads-up: It does have a light layer of oil on the top after finishing which you can skim off (or avoid mostly by straining the cooked veggies before adding the stock) but other than the for look of the dish it is unnecessary.)

Creamy Vegetable and Rice Soup
about 6 servings

1 TB cooking oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 TB tomato paste
2 TB chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t. dried tarragon
32 oz. chicken broth
1 c. minute brown rice
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 c. heavy cream
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and soft, about 6-8 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook until they are just tender, about 10-12 minutes or so. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Then add the tomato paste, parsley and tarragon and again cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn the heat to high and add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then add the rice, cover, and lower the temperature to allow the soup to simmer for about 10 minutes. Then remove the lid from the pan and add in the mushrooms. Cook for about 8 minutes, allowing the mushrooms to cook through. (If skimming the fat off the top of the soup, now is a good time to do so). Then add the heavy cream and turn up the heat to allow to simmer, stirring constantly, for about 10 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Potatoes and Broccoli au Gratin

Having a bit of a rough day today. An acquaintance passed away this morning. He wasn't someone I knew very well, but every time I was around him he brightened my day. He was always full of life, his spirit shining joyously onto all those surrounding him. Despite not knowing him well, I can feel a gaping hole in the city today that won't ever be filled in. But all those who had the chance to cross his path are better for it. Monte, dear, you are missed deeply already. May you rest in peace.

A simple, comforting recipe that maybe can't take away our pain, but perhaps can at least make us feel at home:
Potatoes and Broccoli au Gratin
about 6 servings
3 russet potatoes
1 1/2 c. chopped broccoli
4 TB butter
4 TB flour
1 pint heavy cream
salt and pepper
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

3 TB butter
3/4 c. panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Peel the potatoes and thinly slice (about 1/8" thick). Toss together with the broccoli.
In a large saucepan melt the 4 TB butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together. Cook for 2-3 minutes to cook out some of the raw flour flavor. Add the heavy cream and continue to whisk until the mixture thickens to a saucy consistency (about 4-5 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste. Then add the cheddar cheese and stir until the cheese has melted. Then remove the cheese sauce from the heat.
Mix together the cheese sauce and the potatoes and broccoli. Add to a greased 8X8 baking dish.
Melt the 3 TB butter and mix together with the panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the potatoes. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil from the dish and return to the oven for another 15 minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 8-10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Zucchini Flower Tart

I think fall has finally hit for good. Despite my grumbling about hanging onto the summer in the last post, this does make me happy. I love the crisp air and bundling up in the light layers and scarves and that perfect smell that autumn has.

Every year around this time, I vow to pull out my knitting needles. It seems like the ideal way to pass a cool afternoon: knitting while sipping on a warm beverage, perhaps sitting side-by-side with a good friend. Here's my big secret, though: I have never even finished the first scarf I started knitting, so haven't been able to move onto subsequent projects. I love the idea of knitting, but then never can bring myself to actually sit down and work on it for a significant amount of time. There's so much else to be done! I think I feel bad just lounging around (even though it's much more productive than my obsessive checking of the Internet: Facebook, Serious Eats, other blogs, Runner's World. And repeat). Then the next thing I know it's spring and I feel like "knitting season" has passed and my knitting needles rot away in my nightstand drawer.

Perhaps this year will be different. I will grasp the season by the horns and become a knitting fool. I will finish my scarf and the one I promised the husband a couple of years ago. And perhaps even move onto the really cool projects in the fun knitting book I have. I will become a knitter extraordinaire--knitting on the train on the way to work and while standing on line at the movies. I will knit while watching TV and knit while my stews are bubbling away on the stove top and the bread is rising on the counter.

Perhaps finishing my knitting projects will help push me to finish the other things I am working on...the life things that I keep procrastinating on. This winter (my 30th...) will be the one where I finally put the pedal to the metal and stop making excuses and focus on what I want to be doing. Time to stop wasting so much energy on things I am not passionate about.

What does all this have to do with this tart? Not a lot. But, you do need to jump now to grab the last of the zucchini flowers before they disappear until next year. And perhaps while it is baking you can grab some knitting needles and begin a project of your own.

Zucchini Flower Tart
2-3 servings

3 eggs
1/2 c. cream
1 TB fresh chopped thyme
1/2 c. grated aged cheese (Gruyere, Gouda, etc)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
8-10 zucchini flowers

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Form the crust into a 9" tart pan.
In a medium bowl beat the eggs and then add the cream, thyme, cheese, salt and pepper. 
Place the zucchini flowers into the tart shell. Carefully pour in the egg mixture. 
Bake the tart for around 25 minutes or until the egg is set. Allow to cool for around 8-10 minutes before slicing and serving. This tart can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or snacks. A great all-day meal.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stewed Okra and Tomotoes

Joe and I celebrate 5 years of marriage on Friday. I am a lucky, lucky girl to be able to spend every day of my life with someone who makes me laugh, cheers me on, shares my interests, loves me without abandon, and is truly my best friend. Thank you, my heart, for every moment of the past five years. I look forward to many more.

We spent the weekend traveling a bit to celebrate--first to friends' wedding in Pennsylvania, then on to Washington DC to be touristy and to eat. More on the eating part to come... It was so lovely to be able to get out of town and spend a lot of time out doors on one of the last summery weather weekends we may have before the seasons change for good. It was a little hot at times as we walked around the nation's capitol, but I tried to soak it up and enjoy every last drop. I always love the fall, but slightly dread the winter that is always sure to follow so try to cling desperately to summer's last moments. The following recipe reflects this attitude, by using the some of the last of the summer produce. However, it works just as well on a brisk, cool fall evening. Serve it as a side with a roast or top it with a poached egg for a simple lunch.

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
6 servings
1 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
3 c. chopped fresh okra
1/2 t. paprika
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2-3/4 c. water or stock
salt and pepper

In a large sauce pan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until tender. Then add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Then add the vinegar, okra, paprika, the whole can of diced tomatoes (juices and all) and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

Feeling a bit nostalgic today. Stuck indoors waiting for the cable man to show up, so I've been working on some photo editing, which meant I was looking through a bunch of old pictures. Also have spent some time emailing friends and family. Not exactly feeling homesick, but definitely missing those who aren't in NYC (and even a few who are. It's easy to go far too long without seeing certain friends in this town). It's always the hardest when we don't have another trip back to Kansas on the calendar and I'm not sure when I'll next get to hug my loved ones.

This recipe will always make me think of home. My mom would have us plant a massive garden every summer in our backyard, and the best part was always the tomatoes. There is really nothing better than a fresh-picked ripe tomato right off the vine eaten like an apple...possibly with a slight sprinkle of salt. Only a little bit lower on the tomato totem pole are fried green tomatoes. I love the tart bite the tomatoes have and a crunchy, Parmesan-bread crumb coating is the perfect compliment. This is more or less how my mom made them and I've never come across any that I like so much. This is an excellent way to use those tomatoes that don't have time to ripen up at the end of the season. I have my friend Mary to thank for this batch, as little critters have been getting to hers as soon as they turn red, so she let me take a few green ones so they wouldn't get nibbled on!

I served these more or less as an appetizer one night. As a side I served corn in one of my favorite preparations: cut right off the cob and cooked with lots of butter, salt, pepper, and chopped up peppers (here chocolate peppers, but usually with bell peppers).

Fried Green Tomatoes

3-4 medium green tomatoes, cleaned and sliced 3/4" thick
1 c. flour
1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 t. seasoned salt
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. celery salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
1/3 c. milk
frying oil

Heat 1/2" of frying oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat.
Mix together the flour, panko, Parmesan, seasoned salt, paprika, celery salt, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, beat together the eggs and milk.
Dip the sliced green tomatoes in the egg mixture and then coat with the breadcrumb mixture.

Place the coated tomatoes into the hot oil and cook until browned and crispy on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. 

Be sure not to overcrowd the pan, cooking in smaller batches. If the breadcrumbs are burning and cooking too quickly, turn the heat down to medium. Then remove to a paper towel covered platter before adding the next batch of tomatoes to the oil. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lemon Blackberry Trifle

It has been a hectic few weeks around these parts. The trip back to Kansas was packed full of family, friends, babies (yes, Miss Penny Lane made her appearance so we could meet!), and a bacon explosion. We came back to NYC after the earthquake but just in time to prep for Hurricane Irene.

Stocked up on canned goods, water, candles, flashlights and wine, we settled in to await the storm. And wait and wait. Luckily we never really got the hit in our neighborhood. The power stayed on and other than a few trees going down, the damage wasn't too bad. I think the biggest toll was on our patience as we sat indoors just expecting the storm to hit at any minute. Luckily we passed the time with board games, movies, and cooking. We made a wonderful homemade lasagna, cookies, french toast. And although all the prep and expectation was mostly for naught, it was a great excuse to hole up in the apartment and spend good quality time with my husband.

This trifle isn't something we actually made while hiding out at home during the rain and wind, but it wouldn't be a bad way to weather a summer storm. It has bright sunny flavors but is incredibly simple and may even be a good way to use up a few items if the power does go out and you need to quickly use up some things in the fridge. It isn't really a recipe, but is a basic outline that you can add to/change up for any occasion.

Lemon Blackberry Trifle
lemon curd (perhaps this recipe)
homemade whipped cream (like this?)
crumbled butter cookies
blackberries (blueberries, strawberries, peaches??)

Layer up all the ingredients into clear individual serving dishes. Grab a spoon and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chicken Spiedini

Joe and I are packing up to visit Kansas tomorrow. We will be home for the wedding of one of my college roommates, visiting some babies (one of them better decide to make an appearance. Come on Penny!! "Aunt" Sarah wants to meet you before I have to come back to NYC!), and spending time with family and friends. And eating really hearty, meaty, midwestern meals. I'm particularly looking forward to lunch at my grandma's with my mom's side of the family--we always eat really, really well there.

I'm posting this recipe because it takes me home. Chicken Spiedini isn't really something you see on the menu around NYC, but it is all over the place on certain Italian chain restaurants (and at a particular restaurant where I used to work overlooking the large fountain on the Plaza). Perhaps it's not very authentic, but it always, always tastes good. How can it not with crispy breadcrumbs, Parmesan and lots of lemon? I especially love it served over a lemony pasta tart with capers.

My version isn't technically spiedini, as it isn't on skewers, but it is made in the style of spiedinis I have loved so will continue to call it so. You could do it on the skewers if you so choose, but then you won't get the crispy edges all the way around the chicken.

Chicken Spiedini
3-4 servings

For Chicken: 
1 lb. cubed chicken breast (1 1/2" cubes)
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
2 t. lemon zest
1 TB chopped parsley
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
cooking oil

For Pasta:
9 oz. spaghetti
6 TB butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
zest of 2 lemons
1/4 c. capers
2 TB chopped parsley
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
extra lemon wedges for serving, optional

In a small bowl mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper for the chicken. Dip the chicken pieces into the beaten eggs then roll in the breadcrumb mixture and set aside until all the chicken has been coated.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta as directed. Be sure to save back at least 1/2 c. of the pasta cooking water before straining.
Heat 1/2" of cooking oil in a heavy bottomed saute pan over medium heat. (You don't want the heat to go too high or you will burn the breadcrumbs before cooking the chicken). Once hot add the chicken and cook until crispy on the outside all around and cooked through, working in batches if necessary to keep from crowding the chicken in the pan. Remove the cooked chicken to a paper towel covered plate.

After the chicken is finished and the pasta is cooked, finish the pasta. Add the butter and garlic to a pan (perhaps the pan you cooked the pasta in initially) and cook over medium until the butter is melted and the garlic is fragrant. Add the pasta and toss, then add 3 TB of the pasta cooking water and toss some more. Turn off the heat and then add the lemon juice and the capers to the pasta and toss some more. If the "sauce" seems too thin add another tablespoon or two of pasta cooking water. Then toss in the lemon zest, parsley and Parmesan cheese.
Serve the pasta piled on a plate topped with the crispy chicken with extra lemon wedges on the side if you want even more bright acidity.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Layered Ratatouille

New York has been gorgeous the past two days. I love how at the end of the summer 84 degrees feels almost cool after the 100 degree temps. It is way too darn pretty outside to sit in front of the computer typing (or keeping you here reading) so I will keep this short and sweet.

This recipe is by no means authentic ratatouille. It's really more of a layered vegetable saute, but that just doesn't have the same ring to it. Mostly I just was feeling the desperate need to buy as many vegetables as possible at the greenmarket (how can you not with the bounty as it is at this time of year?) and this was a great way to get a lot of them into one meal! I did a layered version of this since I cook each vegetable separately to not overcook them, but if you want to toss it all back into the pan at the end to mix in the herbs and rewarm everything, go right ahead. This can be a side, but turns into a full meal when served over couscous and topped with the crumbled feta cheese and capers (mmm. I should have fried the capers for some crispy texture. Next time).

Layered Ratatouille
serves 4 as an entree

1 large onion, chopped
2-3 TB olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped into 1" cubes
3 cloves garlic, chopped and divided
2 t. Herbs de Provence, divided
1/2 t. fennel pollen, divided
2 zucchini, sliced
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
Goat's milk feta cheese
3 TB capers
4 servings of cooked couscous

In a saute pan heat 1 TB of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, then add in the eggplant. Cook until tender, but not too soft, about 4-5 minutes, depending on size of cuts. Add in 1/3 of the garlic, 1/3 of the Herbs de Provence, and 1/3 of the fennel pollen the last minute of cooking. Remove the eggplant to a medium sized platter.
Add a bit more oil to the saute pan if needed and return to heat. Add the zucchini, 1/3 garlic, 1/3 Herbs de Provence, 1/3 fennel pollen to the pan and saute until the zucchini is tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and layer on top of the eggplant.
Once again return the saute pan to the heat and add a bit more olive oil. Add in the last 1/3 of the garlic and then immediately add the tomatoes. Cook for about 30 seconds and then remove from the heat. Add the last 1/3 of the Herbs de Provence and fennel pollen and add the basil. Layer the tomatoes on top of the zucchini. 
Sprinkle the feta cheese and the capers over top of the tomatoes. To serve scoop some couscous onto a plate and top with the ratatouille. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Chocolate Pudding Mousse

I had a really rough night at work last night. Suffice it to say I was yelled at and belittled by a customer over our lack of oyster crackers to be served with the oysters (yeah, I don't get the anger over that either). Not really the greatest way to end an evening.

I beseech you my readers--be nice to your servers! They are humans and there are many things that happen in a restaurant that are beyond their control. The kitchen may screw up your order even if your server put it in correctly. The bar could be overwhelmed making your drinks take forever--trust me, it's frustrating for us too. If you ask a runner for something instead of asking me sometimes I don't get the message (not always the runners fault--they are pretty darn busy themselves). And I do have other tables that take up some of my time as well! Just things to keep in mind... (I think you my blog readers are all very kind folks, though, so I have faith that you are kind to those in the service industry.)

What do I do to take the edge off of a rough day? My job's answer is tequila--which is a beautiful thing, don't get me wrong--but I think I would usually rather have some chocolate. Dark and rich and the perfect thing to melt away all sorts of negative thoughts or feelings passing through you. Who doesn't feel better after some chocolate?

This particular recipe is somewhere along the lines of a mousse, but is thicker and denser. It feels something like an adult pudding cup. Maybe it would pair nicely with a Don Julio Anejo, neat??

Chocolate Pudding Mousse
4-5 servings (depending on cup size)

12 oz. chocolate (I had semi-sweet chocolate chips on hand but use what you will--I recommend a dark chocolate)
4 eggs
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 t. cream of tartar (optional)
1/2 t. sea salt (+more for sprinkling, optional)
extra virgin olive oil, optional

Add the chocolate chips and heavy cream to a double boiler over simmering water and slowly melt the chocolate chips.
Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Add the yolks and the salt to the chocolate and quickly stir. Set aside. 
Add the egg whites to a mixer and add the cream of tartar if using. Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
Add a large spoonful of egg whites to the chocolate mixture. Fold in. Repeat slowly with the remaining egg whites, being careful to not over mix the chocolate, trying to keep the mixture as light as possible.
Once all the whites have been added, portion the chocolate mixture into small ramekins, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to serving.
To add extra depth of flavor (which I highly recommend), drizzle the chocolate "pudding" with a high quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with extra coarse sea salt.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Creamy Mushroom Steak Sauce

I was in jury duty most of last week. This meant a lot of sitting around the courthouse, waiting, listening, waiting, considering, waiting. I came home each night mentally worn out. Since I didn't have a lot of time to cook and didn't really feel like spending too much time in the kitchen anyways it led to a lot of quick, no-fuss meals.

One of these meals included boneless rib-eye steaks and corn on the cob. Hardly any effort necessary and yet this meal always brings back memories of childhood summers and the parents grilling in the backyard. I decided to up the ante slightly by making a hearty pan sauce after searing the steaks in the cast iron skillet. Any leftover sauce can always be used over biscuits or pasta.

Creamy Mushroom Steak Sauce
2-3 servings

2 steaks of your choosing, seared to perfection in a cast iron skillet and sprinkled with salt and pepper
5 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/4 c. white wine or dry vermouth
3/4 c. heavy cream
3 TB butter
1 TB flour (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

After removing the steaks from the cast iron skillet, turn the heat to medium and toss in the mushrooms. Saute until cooked through and slightly browned, adding the garlic for the last minute or so of cooking.
Add in the white wine or vermouth to the pan, using a spoon to scrape up any meat or mushroom bits that are sticking to the bottom of the pan. Then add in the heavy cream. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened up slightly. If you want a thicker sauce mix 1 TB of the heavy cream with the flour in a small bowl and then add to the cream sauce at this time, and stir for about 4 minutes or until thickened. Then add the salt and pepper to taste. Serve over top of the steaks.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Carbonara with Bottarga

It is hot. Like, grab a book and go lie on the floor of the supermarket in the freezer section hot. Almost too hot to type. So I'll keep this short.

Don't turn on the oven. Don't stand over the stove for long periods of time stirring a pot. Put some water on to boil, throw in some spaghetti, cook for a few minutes. Turn off the stove ASAP. Then toss that pasta with some eggs, cheese, butter and some of that pasta cooking water. Eat. Lock yourself in your bedroom with the door shut and your window unit blasting until you need the blanket to keep warm. Avoid going out into the blazing sun at all costs.

Carbonara is one of my favorite fast meals on the nights where I haven't planned dinner or don't have a lot of time but still want something satisfying and rich. I've made it many times, but think this particular version was the best yet. Top it off with grated mullet bottarga (cured fish roe) for a unique flavor punch.

Spaghetti Carbonara with Bottarga
4-5 servings

9 oz. spaghetti
6 TB butter
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 large eggs
1 1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
3/4 c. grated parmesan
juice of 1 lemon
grated bottarga

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and a little extra virgin olive oil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package directions. Before draining, reserve around 1/2 c. of the pasta cooking water.

In a small saucepan melt the butter over medium heat with the sliced garlic. Once melted and the garlic is fragrant, remove from the heat.

In a small bowl beat together the eggs and fresh ground pepper.

After the pasta has finished cooking and is drained, return to the pan and add about 1/8 c. of the pasta cooking water. Then add the garlic butter and toss together. Next turn on the heat to low and add the egg  mixture and lemon juice and toss until the pasta is well coated, stirring quickly and constantly. If the "sauce" needs to be thinned out a little add a touch more of the pasta cooking water. Finally toss in the Parmesan cheese and then remove from the heat. Serve topped with the grated bottarga.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chickpeas with Chorizo and Squid

I often dream of living right on the beach. I feel so at home there with the sand between my toes, the salty breeze, and the constant sound of the waves crashing. Perhaps odd for a girl raised smack in the middle of the country with no ocean in sight, but I think there is something reminiscent of the wind rolling through the tall prairie grasses and the huge open sky that just calls to me. I always feel a sense of calm wash over me whenever I find myself near the coast. In my dreams of my beach-side home I imagine a chill day, starting with a run along the water, and where later even if I am working it is at a relaxed pace. There would be the promise of an evening listening to the water on the back porch with wine in hand or of a bonfire in the sand with many friends. I think I would make something like this for dinner. So quick to put together (15 minutes tops) and delicious with uber-fresh seafood and a kick of heat from the chorizo. Because who wants to spend all night cooking when you could be enjoying your beach??

Chickpeas with Chorizo and Squid
4 servings

1 lb. cleaned squid
4 links chorizo
1 28 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 t. coarse sea salt
1 lemon

Rinse the squid in cold water and then pat dry with paper towels. Score one side of each of the squid bodies with a couple of slashes of your knife.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the squid in a single layer (doing multiple batches if necessary). The squid will cook very quickly, about 45 seconds-1 minute per side. Once cooked through (hopefully with a little char), remove the squid to a plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Squeeze the chorizo out of the casing into the hot skillet (discard the casings). Saute until cooked through and then add the chickpeas. Stir quickly and cook until the chickpeas are heated through and then remove the skillet from the heat.
Plate the chorizo/chickpea mixture and then drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Top off with the squid and squeeze the juice of the lemon over top just before serving.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spring Bow Tie Pasta

This week I went to see "Through a Glass Darkly" at the New York Theatre Workshop featuring Carey Mulligan. As I was standing in line for the bathroom after the show a random stranger started talking to me about Mulligan's performance. "She's very good, isn't she? And very young. Hopefully someone will find her down here." I didn't have the energy to explain to this woman that Ms. Mulligan has already been "found", being nominated for an Oscar for her stunning performance in "An Education" and for a Drama Desk for "The Seagull". She's definitely insanely talented for someone her age, giving a haunting, honest and brutal portrayal of a woman losing her grip with reality in this show. But she is far from being an unknown.

The woman went on to tell me about this girl she once saw years ago in "Frankie and Jonny in the Clair de Lune" in another small theatre downtown. She told her husband at the time, "it's too bad this girl won't ever go anywhere." That girl was Kathy Bates. D'oh.

There is something so invigorating about seeing someone so young with such a burgeoning talent. It's a thrill to know you will get to watch this person's career grow and to have high expectations (if you aren't the crazy bathroom stranger) of what they will bring to the table in the future.

Discovering a new chef or a young restaurant is quite the same feeling. How exciting to walk into a place that you've stumbled upon where you haven't read review after review of, or seen multiple blog posts extolling its virtues. It's a rare thing to find such a place in this city, as there are more food blogs and reviewers than actual restaurants (and that's saying something).

Just as there are a few young performers whose name will draw me into anything they do, there are a few chefs I've found that will keep me coming back for more, despite not having a household name (yet, at least). Before hitting up the play the other night, Joe and I came upon one of these places in The Redhead, with chef Meg Grace. It's not brand new, and has been reviewed by the Times, among many others, but it was new to us (and I didn't see those reviews until after we dined there, so there was no clouding of my judgement). The cuisine is inspired by Louisiana and sourced seasonally from the farmer's market, making a truly comforting yet creative meal. I look forward to going back again and following Meg Grace's career.

These brushes with greatness bring about the spark of personal inspiration as well. How thrilling to experience their talent and then allow that to work within you and see what comes out. It is wonderful to learn and grow from those around you, regardless of age and fame.

This meal was made before the evening in discussion, so was not influenced by that night, but was brought about by a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket and the inspiration found in its bounty. It is simple but layered with delicious seasonal flavors, and perhaps will make you want to follow my own career to come... ;-)

Spring Bow Tie Pasta
4-5 servings

10 oz. bow tie pasta
8 oz. chopped oyster mushrooms
1/2 c. shelled and cleaned fava beans
1/4 c. finely chopped garlic scapes
3 TB olive oil
6 TB butter
5 anchovies
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
1/2-3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the bow tie pasta as directed. Make sure to reserve a little of the pasta cooking water before draining.

Heat a skillet with 2 TB olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot add the oyster mushrooms. Cook until browned and slightly crispy around the edges, stirring occasionally, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the mushrooms to a plate, reserving the oil in the pan.
Add 1 TB more olive oil to the skillet if necessary (if there isn't a lot left over after cooking the mushrooms). Add the garlic scapes and cook until they begin to be slightly tender, about 3 minutes. Then add in the fava beans and cook for about 1-2 minutes more. Then add in the butter and the anchovies. Cook until the butter has melted and the anchovies have broken up and dissolved (using a spoon and crushing the anchovies to help this process along). Add the mushrooms back to the pan and turn off the heat.

Add the lemon juice and a little salt and pepper to the mushroom/fava bean mixture. Then add in the pasta, with a tablespoon or two of the pasta cooking water. Toss together until the pasta is well coated. Then toss in the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Oven Baked Spare Ribs

I know some people hate the heat of summer, but I have to disagree. It's not always comfortable being hot, but I would much rather walk down the street in a sundress and flip-flops than be bundled up and barely able to move in a huge coat, scarf, hat, gloves and boots. Summer means enjoying the stroll to the markets, lounging on a park bench with a good book, ice cream, trips to the beach. It means not having to have an excuse for a backyard barbecue, and farmer's stands overflowing with the treasure of their harvest. To me the summer means unlimited possibilities, in the kitchen and in the everyday.

Despite the sun beating down today, I had a wonderful walk over to Bklyn Larder, Fermented Grapes, and the grocery store for ingredients for tonight's dinner. I love knowing the neighborhood so well that I know where to stop for which particular products, and love knowing that many of the shop workers recognize me as well. The sense of community is strong and it feels great to belong to that. Between the gorgeous weather, the friendly neighbors, and the sense of opportunity on the horizon, it is a damn fine day (plus I get to finally have dinner with the husband again after a couple of crazy busy weeks).

These ribs are an excellent way to pass a perfect summer evening--lots of flavor from the soy and fish sauces, wonderfully tender with just enough bite, and the low oven temps help keep your home cool. Enjoy them with friends to make the experience complete.

Oven Baked Spare Ribs
2-3 servings
2.5 lbs. rack of pork spare ribs
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 TB fish sauce
1 TB white wine vinegar
1 t. sesame oil
1 t. liquid smoke
1 t. season salt
1 t. dried onion flakes
1/4 t. dried garlic powder
1/2 t. smoked pepper
1/2 t. salt

In a small bowl mix together the honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, white wine vinegar, sesame oil and liquid smoke. Pour this all over the spare ribs.
In another small bowl mix together the season salt, onion flakes, garlic powder, smoked pepper and salt. Sprinkle this all over the ribs. Cover the ribs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Pull the ribs out of the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes as the oven is preheating to 275 degrees. Then place them on a foil lined baking sheet or in a baking dish. Place in the oven and bake until the meat is fork tender (about 2-2 1/2 hours). Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
Slice the ribs between each of the bones and serve.