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.

Showing posts with label Salad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Salad. Show all posts

Friday, January 10, 2014

Orange Hazelnut Salad

In the dark, cold, short days of winter, there's something so encouraging about the arrival of seasonal citrus fruit to the supermarkets. Though the brightly colored treasures aren't local I don't deny myself the juicy treat of artificial sunshine. Their burst of summer-like flavors guide me through the gloomy months.

This salad can help lighten up a hearty cold-weather meal. I served it in contrast to a spicy and hearty orrechiette with sausage and broccoli rabe but I can see it matched up nicely with braised or roasted meats as well.

Orange Hazelnut Salad
serves 3-4 as appetizer
3 TB red wine vinegar
3 TB olive oil
1/4 t. seasoned salt
pinch of paprika or piment d'esplette
1/8 t. fresh ground pepper
3 large oranges
pinch of sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. toasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts
micro greens

Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, seasoned salt, paprika (or piment d'esplette) and pepper until well mixed.
Peel the oranges and trim away any excess white pith. Cut the oranges into 1/2" slices and layer these onto a platter. Sprinkle with pinch of sea salt and drizzle with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Pour the red wine vinaigrette over top and then scatter the hazelnuts and micro greens over top as garnish.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thyme Roasted Beets and a Beet Vinaigrette

It's been more than a month since I've come home from LongHouse yet I still find myself reflecting on my experiences there.

It was an intense six weeks of work. We created 3 documentaries, 3 slide shows, wrote articles, wrote blog posts, recorded a radio program, cleaned and set up the barn for the gathering, weeded and attended the garden, cooked, helped build a wood fire oven, and more. And didn't forget to capture the whole of it through photographs and audio recordings.

I learned so much through the program and through our speakers/teachers who passed through during our stay in Rensselaerville. Molly O'Neill, Kathy Gunst, John Rudolf, Sara-Kate Gillingham, Penny de los Santos, Darra Goldstein, Dudley Reed, Victor Schrager, the Smiths of Smith Bites....just to name a few. And that doesn't even include the list of incredible speakers who attended Revival itself. An overwhelming display of riches from the food media world to say the least.

Yet out of it all, the most important thing I stepped away with was the connection to my fellow scholars. There were nine of us, eight girls and one guy. We came from various parts of the country, from different backgrounds and experiences and at different points in our lives. Yet there was a link forged between us that will never be broken. We lived in intimately close quarters, all piled into Molly's home, six of us sharing one room (lovingly dubbed "The Orphanage"). Working, eating, sleeping side-by-side every moment for a month. We became a family, even squabbling occasionally as siblings. As a team we confronted the challenges and triumphed in the successes. When one was down, there was always a shoulder to cry on or a strong arm to help prop them up.

Though we have now re-scattered to the winds to our own parts of the world, we remain ever close. These are the friends I turn to for advice and encouragement as I forge my way down my new path. Each one is insanely talented and I will cheer them on loudly towards their own successful careers. I am thankful everyday for the opportunity that brought these eight friends to me.

To check out some of the work we created, read our blog series that we each posted throughout the program here. You can see my photos from the event here. And listen to the interview we gave this summer to Heritage Radio here!

Thyme Roasted Beets and Beet Vinaigrette
I tend to find roasting beets a bit frustrating because they always seem to take longer than I'd like. However the great thing about this dish is that the beets can be prepared beforehand and served cold if you'd like, so there's no need to put dinner on hold while you wait for them to finish up in the oven.
The vinaigrette uses the juices that run off from the beets as they roast. It can be tossed with the beets themselves, but I like to use it on mixed greens and serve alongside for a complete meal.

Roasted Beets
1 bundle beets
2 TB olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
4-5 springs thyme
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
creme fraiche

Heat oven to 425.
Trim the beets, cutting the top off to remove the green stems completely. Scrub the beets thoroughly with water and then pat dry. If the beets are large, chop in halves or quarters.
Tear off a large piece of aluminum foil and place into a baking dish. Add the beets, the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss together to coat. Sprinkle in the thyme sprigs and then wrap the whole mix tightly in the foil. You want to make sure the juices do not leak out.
Roast until the beets are tender. Check on them after about an hour, but they may need another 15-30 minutes to roast completely. Then remove from the oven and cool slightly. Reserve the roasting liquids for the vinaigrette. Peel the skins from the beets and chop into bite sized pieces.
Plate the beets and then drizzle with a fruity extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Dollop creme fraiche on top and serve.

Beet Vinaigrette
Juices left from roasting the beets (remove the thyme stems)
3 TB apple cider vinegar
3 anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. mustard powder
1/4 t. seasoned salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. olive oil

Place the beet juices, anchovies, garlic, mustard powder, seasoned salt, and pepper into a small bowl. Mix together, mashing the anchovies as you go. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Toss with beets to serve or with mixed greens as a side salad.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kale Caesar Salad

I am in overdrive today, nearing full-on panic mode. I have a long list of things to get accomplished yet can't seem to get myself focused long enough to complete a task. The facts that I'm dealing with a cold and my computer decided to take a trip to tech repair today aren't helping.

The big thing that's on my plate? I am leaving NYC tomorrow morning for Renssellaerville, NY to participate in the internship program with the Longhouse Food Revival. Basically I will be working with Molly O'Neill and other brilliant food media minds to create documentaries, photo slide shows, radio programming, a magazine and other content to be featured at this year's Revival, all while cooking, farming, and learning alongside my fellow interns. I am ecstatic to take on this opportunity. Plus I get the added benefit of getting out of New York City for most of the month of August. Leaving the sweltering subways, tourist filled streets and job behind for the clean air of a small town. The only downside I see is leaving the husband behind. It's been years since we've been separated for so long and I know that it will be difficult to get through the weeks without my best friend by my side.

I also will probably not have too much time to keep up with this blog while I am away, so for now I say farewell--for just a few weeks! If I get the opportunity I will update you on the adventures on the farm, but otherwise I will see you come September. Hope you all have a lovely end-of-summer and can take your own adventures to return refreshed. I leave you with one more recipe for the road: a simple Caesar salad made hearty enough for a full summer meal with the substitution of kale in place of romaine.

Kale Caesar Salad
serves 3-4
1 large bundle of kale (about 5-6 cups)
2 c. cubed French bread
2 TB butter
1/2 t. seasoned salt
pinch of garlic salt
5 anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic
juice of 1 1/2 lemons (about 1/3 c.)
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. olive oil
grated Parmesan cheese

Remove the tough stems from the kale and tear into large pieces. Wash well to remove grit and dirt and then dry.

To make the croutons heat the butter in a saute pan over medium. Add the cubed bread, seasoned salt and garlic powder. Toss constantly until the bread has become crispy all over. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Make the dressing by placing the anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard in a medium bowl and crushing all together with a pestle or the back of a fork. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil and the regular olive oil until emulsified. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.

Toss the kale with the dressing. Get your hands in there and massage the dressing into the leaves, helping to tenderize them, for about 2 minutes (you should feel with the texture of the kale changes slightly and this is when you know it is ready). Toss with the Parmesan cheese and croutons to serve.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Duck Breast with Pear Jalapeno Compote

The morning air is still crisp and cool. Days are noticeably longer. The parks are lush and full. Allergies are annoying the senses but the irritation is worth it for the knowledge that Spring is really here.

The husband and I spent a morning the other week wandering through the flowering vegetation of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Blossoms exploded in colors every way we turned, lilacs scented the air, children ran barefoot through the new, tender grass. A good amount of the afternoon was passed enveloped by the cherry blossoms, occasionally feeling the patter of their ethereal pink "snow".

Afterwards, in need of refreshment, we found a nearby patio to continue to enjoy the beautiful weather as we slowly sipped margaritas and munched on fresh guacamole. The scent of jalapenos from our neighbors' tacos wafted over us, turning our thoughts to dinner. Duck was set to be the main dish, and now we knew that some spicy heat would kick it up as well. The husband requested a fruity-spicy blend--perhaps pear--and that's how dinner was formed.

The rich main course was served alongside a refreshingly crisp celery salad based on one we had eaten last summer at Prune that was paired with toasted country bread topped by Valdeon blue cheese. I never would have considered pairing the celery and blue cheese in this way, but Gabrielle Hamilton understands the balance of flavors better than anyone and it just makes sense once you eat it.

Duck Breast with Pear Jalapeno Compote
serves 2
1 (1 lb) duck breast
salt and pepper
1 pear, peeled and chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped
3 TB butter

Lay the duck breast on a cutting board and slice through the skin at an angle about every inch, going through the skin and fat but not cutting into the meat. Turn the breast 90 degrees and slice through the skin again, creating a diamond pattern. This will allow the fat to render from the breast. Pat the duck all over with a paper towel to soak up any excess moisture and then generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the duck skin side down in a cold, heavy-bottomed skillet. Place on the stove and turn the heat onto medium-high. Cook until the skin has turned brown and crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Flip the breast over and cook until the internal temperature reaches about 135 for medium rare (about 4-5 minutes more) then remove the duck to a plate to rest while finishing the sauce.

Pour out all but about 1 tablespoon of duck fat from the pan (strain the rest and reserve for future use). Add the pear and jalapeno and turn the heat down to medium. Saute until the pear is tender, stirring up any bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. Add the butter and stir until melted, then and add salt and pepper as necessary. Remove from the heat.

Slice the duck into half inch pieces. Top with the pear sauce and serve.

Celery Salad with Blue Cheese Toast
Food52 has a great interpretation of this Prune dish and I based my version on theirs with very few changes. Check it out here for the recipe.

Monday, April 29, 2013

French Goat Cheese Salad

Sometimes I think it is difficult to talk about a vacation when you first arrive back home. All of the emotions, memories, experiences are piled up on top of one another in your head and seem to be too much to process in a way that would make sense to other people. It takes some time to really let it all sink in, and for the truly memorable pieces to achieve focus so the stories can be told without all of the superfluous details.

And thus, I have not yet been able to discuss our trip to Paris/Dijon here on the blog. There were too many things to say. Now after being back for close to 2 weeks I am finally feeling the ability to put it all into words for you, so will be covering some of the important bits over a couple of posts.

To begin, I mostly want to discuss how truly lovely the French are. Almost every restaurant, bar, grocery store, shop, etc. that we walked into felt like our local neighborhood joint thanks to the warm welcome we received  The shopkeepers would ask us questions, talk about our day, give us suggestions on things to eat or drink. Certain places felt so comfortable that you it was as if we were passing the evening at a friend's home. I can't get over the sense of warmth that the French seemed to constantly exude. How wonderful to feel so welcomed despite my dreadful attempts at their home language.

This warmth carried over to all of the food we were served: how can something not taste delicious when you truly feel that the proprietors of the establishments are so happy to have you there with them. The sense of pride in French food doesn't hurt, either.

There were many dishes that you would see on multiple menus throughout the city, but one that seemed to be on every single menu we saw was the goat cheese salad. Basically the French bread was sliced (and oh, god, the French bread really is that much better than the bread anywhere else in the world) and topped with goat cheese and then baked. This warm, cheesy "crouton" was then served on top of a salad. Simple as that.

When we returned home I knew this easy to prepare yet complex tasting salad must grace our table. My version was also inspired by our side trip to Burgundy by flavoring the dressing with sweet yet tart creme de cassis and Dijon mustard. The sweet and spicy dressing pairs so nicely with a rich goat cheese and figs over top of mesclun greens. I've come back a bit of a cheese snob and knew I didn't want the too mild, boring grocery store goat cheese, so bought a little Le Chevrot which had a little age and more depth. However, I won't judge if the grocery store variety is all you have on hand.

French Goat Cheese Salad
serves about 3-4
8-10 slices French bread
7 oz. Le Chevrot cheese or other goat cheese
6 c. mesclun mix
9-10 figs, thinly sliced

4 TB creme de cassis
2 TB Dijon mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the goat cheese and place slices on each piece of French bread. Place the bread onto a baking sheet and bake until the cheese has become gooey and melted a bit and the bread is slightly toasted, about 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile place the mesclun greens and figs into a large salad bowl.
To make the dressing mix the creme de cassis, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Then toss the dressing with the salad. Top with the goat cheese toasts to serve.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fall Vegetable Salad

As the month of November comes to a close, I can't help but think of all of those things I have to be thankful for.
I get to live in, and make a living in, a city that challenges me and excites me with every day. A place where it is impossible to be bored or boring.
Despite being far from home, I have many good friends here who I truly consider family who help to celebrate the the little successes and lift me up when things are rough.
My siblings and I are all blessed enough to have each found a significant other who we love deeply and who each wonderfully returns the favor.
I have gorgeous nieces and nephews who I couldn't be more proud of.
I have a job that allows me the time and the money to be able to actually enjoy and experience the things that New York City has to offer.
I am fit and healthy.
I have many opportunities to do what I love and share that with those around me (and those online as well).

It can be easy to get caught up in the little trials of our lives and forget all that we are so lucky to have. This is a great time of year to take stock and remember it all, but it is important to not let that go throughout the rest of the year. Perhaps a resolution as we move forward is to make a point at the first of every month to really sit down and count our blessings. Take them in and let these carry us through the following weeks. Give thanks for each of the little gifts that have been bestowed on our lives.

One more thing I'm thankful for? A dinner that is healthy, hearty, and full of vegetables that is still absolutely delicious on a fall evening. Grateful for the "green presents" the farmer's market has given me. :)

Fall Vegetable Salad
serves 2-3 as an entree

2 c. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/2 c. chopped pancetta
1/2 lb. oyster mushrooms, chopped
3 c. spinach
1/2 c. shaved Parmesan
juice of 2 lemons
1/3 c. honey
1/2 t. ground mustard powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for about 2 minutes. Drain and then rinse under cold running water to cool. Drain and pat dry as much as possible.
Place the pancetta in a large saute pan. Heat over medium high until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the pancetta to a paper towel lined plate.
Add the blanched Brussels sprouts to the pancetta fat and cook until browned and slightly crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the sprouts to a platter.
If there is very little oil left in the saute pan, add about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and allow to heat (still over medium-high temperature). Add the chopped oyster mushrooms and saute until they are browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes or so.
In a small bowl mix together the lemon juice, honey, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it is emulsified.
Toss a couple of tablespoons of the dressing with the spinach leaves and place these in the bottom of a large platter. Toss the Brussels sprouts, pancetta, and oyster mushrooms with a few more tablespoons of the dressing and layer on top of the spinach. Sprinkle the shredded Parmesan over top of the whole salad and serve.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Latest Over at Pine Tar Press

With football season now is swing, it's the perfect opportunity to head on over and check out what I've been posting on "Batter Up and Fry: Tailgating Treats" for Pine Tar Press.

Panzanella Salad

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Baked Clams

Chicago Dog Spread

Baked Beans

"Beaver Nuggets"

Tailgating Gear

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sweet and Salty Roasted Cauliflower

The first job I had when I moved to New York City was in a Sicilian restaurant in one of the neighborhoods without a name--somewhere between SoHo, Tribecca, and the West Village. There wasn't a lot of activity in that part of town, which meant the place didn't get much business. Despite the good food (and obviously wonderful employees...) the restaurant went out of business a few months after I started there.

I remember when I began my training all of the ingredients seeming incredibly exotic. As someone who just arrived from the small-town Midwest, I had to search for definitions of agnolotti, mortadella, bottarga, etc. just to begin to understand the menu. Prepping for that job opened up a whole new world of food for me and was the first step in knowledge and experience to get me to where I am today. It was also a jumping off place that led me to my next two jobs (the second of which I am still at today).

For all I learned there (and for the friends I made) it saddens me that I cannot go back and for a moment experience a few of the memories created there through the restaurant's food. Some days especially I think I would give anything for just one plate of the short rib agnolotti or the smoky tagine. But I can at least try to recreate a little of that world through the lens of my own kitchen.

One of the most interesting flavor combinations I came to learn while there is the combination of uber-salty fish like sardines or anchovies with a hint of something sweet, like dried fruit. There is something cloying about this duo that tantalizes your taste buds and leaves them crying for more. When paired here with slightly crisp roasted cauliflower it becomes a dish that would be lovely alongside herb-rubbed lamb or a hearty fish, but is just as nice for a simple lunch.

Sweet and Salty Roasted Cauliflower
4-5 servings

1 large head cauliflower
2-3 TB olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 TB capers
1/8 c. toasted slivered almonds
1/8 c. raisins

1 TB anchovy paste
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Chop the cauliflower into 1 1/2" florets. Toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread into a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 30 minutes.
While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl add the anchovy paste and lemon juice and whisk briskly while drizzling in the extra virgin olive oil. Once it has emulsified, set the dressing aside.
After the cauliflower is roasted place in a medium bowl and toss with the capers, almonds and raisins. Add the dressing, stir, and then taste. Add salt and pepper if necessary and serve. This salad is just as good room temperature or chilled as it is warm.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Curried Chickpea Salad

This side dish is super easy to put together and is packed full of flavor and is excellent for when you are having a busy day. Get the recipe over at Pine Tar Press.

On a side note, I got a SLR camera finally last weekend! Have been working hard to make sure I understand and can use all of the features, plus have now downloaded Lightroom to work on RAW images, so may be asking for advice and tips as I go along. Any food related SLR and Lightroom suggestions and help would be welcome! (I have a backlog of photos and recipes that I am behind on, though, so many of the pictures for a few more upcoming posts will still be from the point and shoot).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Winter Farro Salad

January has left me feeling a little down and lonely. After the bustle of the holiday and football seasons where we were constantly surrounded by friends and attending parties, cooking groups, games; the first of the new year has meant everyone buckling back down to work and staying in to save a little money. Plus, it is NYC, where you really do have to make an effort to spend time with folks, which is always harder in the colder temps. For such a small city (distance-wise), it is far too easy to go for long periods of time without seeing even the people who live a mere 2 miles from you.

But February helps to kick-start a new round of gatherings. The Superbowl, the Oscars, and dinner dates are all on the horizon. My soul is looking forward to some good, quality friend time.

If you have some evening get-togethers in your future this would make an excellent lunch before heading out. It is hearty without being overly filling. Unlike a lot of salads the farro actually helps it to feel like a substantial meal. I love the texture of farro--just enough bite. It pairs nicely with earthy beets and tart clementines, and the nuts and cheese add saltiness and crunch. This recipe makes a large batch, but it keeps well in the fridge and is wonderful as leftovers.

Winter Farro Salad
4-6 servings

1 c. farro
2 1/2 c. chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make vegetarian)
8 small beets (about 1 1/2" diameter)
4-5 clementines
3/4 c. Romano cheese
1/2 c. toasted slivered almonds
2 TB chopped fresh parsley
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Mix the farro and chicken broth together into a medium saucepan. Heat over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low to low to bring the liquid to a simmer and cover. Cook until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. If there is still a lot of liquid after cooking, drain off of the farro.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel and clean the beets and then add to the water and boil until tender, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from the water. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, chop the beets into bite sized pieces.

Peel the clementines and divide up the segments, removing any small seeds that may be present.

In a large bowl toss together the farro, beets, clementines, cheese, almonds, parsley and olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Warm Mediterranean Salad and Whole Roasted Eggplant

Happy New Year! How did you spend your holiday? I think I'm still (mentally) recovering from mine--which I spent working. It's always a crazy night for us at the restaurant. I passed most of the night fighting through the crowds dancing in the middle of the dining room and trying to be heard over the blasting DJ music, trying to keep my trays of drinks from crashing to the ground and trying to keep my patience. Definitely was not 100% successful, but I made it through.

But that is over now and we are onto a new year! I have high hopes and lots of good feelings about the year to come.

One thing I definitely have been trying to be better at lately, and hope to continue through 2012, is to eat more vegetables. I'm really wanting to be better about healthy eating habits, especially after seeing some of my family members struggling with heart issues this past year. As healthy as I generally am with my running and lack of fast food in my diet, I know I can do better.

For anyone with similar New Year's Resolutions, this salad is a delicious addition to your menu. It is a warm salad, so is also wonderful for the cold winter months, with small sausage "meatballs" in a tomato based sauce over top of a bed of fresh spinach leaves. I like to serve this salad with a whole roasted eggplant on the side--once roasted it creates a smoky, creamy spread perfect when served with crusty bread.

Warm Mediterranean Salad

4 lamb merguez sausages
1/2 TB olive oil
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives
1 cucumber, chopped
1 TB lemon juice
Spinach leaves
goat and sheep's milk feta

Cut open the end of each sausage casing. Push out the sausage meat and form into small 1" balls. 
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meatballs to the pan and cook until browned on the outside and cooked through. 
Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Then stir in the artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and cucumber and cook until heated through, another minute or two. Then stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
Place a good portion of spinach leaves in a bowl. The top off with the sausage mixture and toss together. Sprinkle with the feta on top and serve.

Whole Roasted Eggplant
1 large eggplant
Extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice
coarse sea salt
red chili flakes
sliced French bread

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
Poke the eggplant all over with a fork or sharp knife and then place onto a baking sheet. Place the eggplant into the oven and roast for about 1 hour (or until the eggplant skin is slightly wrinkled and the whole eggplant is soft).
Cut the eggplant in half. Drizzle with fresh squeezed lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and red chili flakes.
Spread the insides of the eggplant on top of sliced French bread to serve.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Duck Breast with Strawberry Gastrique; Asparagus and Radish Salad

May was a crazy busy month. We had many, many friends visiting, which was so lovely and so much fun, but it did mean we were eating out a lot. I'd love to just invite all of the guests over to our house to enjoy dinner in, but usually people don't feel like making the trek into Brooklyn. Their loss, I say. :)

This week we finally got the chance for a quiet dinner at home with just the two of us. Thankfully the greenmarket was overflowing with goodness and inspiration and this meal came together in a snap. The thin, crisp asparagus, radishes, and gorgeous strawberries for the jam (did a little canning during the day as well!) all came from the same farm from Jersey. The meal had elegant flavors, but was so simple to put together and was the perfect way to enjoy an evening in.

Duck Breast with Strawberry Gastrique
serves 2
2 duck breasts
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

1/4 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. sherry vinegar*
2 TB strawberry jam
salt and pepper

(* if you are using a particularly sweet strawberry jam I recommend using 3/4 c. sherry vinegar instead to help balance out the sweetness).

Remove the duck breasts from the refrigerator and score the skin on top in a diamond pattern (make diagonal cuts about 1-1 1/2 inch apart and then rotate 90 degrees and repeat). Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper and allow the meat to sit out on the counter about 20 minutes to come closer to room temperature before cooking.

While the duck is resting start the gastrique. Place the maple syrup and sherry vinegar into a small saucepan and heat over high heat until boiling. Reduce the heat to medium/medium-low to allow for a slow boil. Cook until the sauce has reduced and thickened considerably, about 10 minutes or so. Add the strawberry jam, stir, and continue to cook down to reduce for another 2-3 minutes (keep in mind the sauce will thicken slightly as it cools). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To prepare the duck, place skin side down in a cold skillet. Turn on the heat to medium-high. Cook until the skin is crispy and pulls easily away from the pan (about 4-8 minutes depending on thickness of breast). Flip over and cook until medium-rare (130 degrees), about 2-4 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with the strawberry gastrique.

Asparagus and Radish Salad
serves 4
1 bundle of asparagus
1 bundle of radishes

Juice from 2 lemons (about 1/3 c.)
1/8 c. white wine vinegar
1/8 c. honey
1/4 t. mustard powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2-3/4 c. olive oil

Clean and trim the asparagus. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the asparagus to the skillet and cook until slightly charred yet still firm, tossing often, about 3 minutes per batch. Remove the charred asparagus to a platter and place in the refrigerator while cooking the rest.
Clean the radishes and slice very thinly using a mandolin. Scatter on top of the charred (and cooled) asparagus. 
In a small mixing bowl add the lemon juice, white wine vinegar, honey, mustard powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix together well and then add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream while constantly whisking. Add enough oil that the dressing has almost a creamy look and has blended together well. Toss the dressing with the asparagus and radishes and serve.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Green Bean Salad with Duck Prosciutto Vinaigrette

As Spring and Summer produce arrives at the greenmarket, it brings along a sense of refreshment and renewal. An awakening of the senses and alighting inspiration. There is no need to bring along recipes--they create themselves when you see the strawberries piled next to the spinach or taste the samples of hot Italian sausage at a stand right next to their fresh new turnip greens.

One stand really getting my creative juices flowing lately is the Hudson Valley Duck Farm. They feature lovely fresh duck (especially fond of the lola duck breasts) but also have amazing duck charcuterie: rilletes, smoked, and prosciutto. I served this prosciutto thinly sliced at a party I had recently, but when I had leftovers I couldn't help but add them to this crunchy, bright salad in the form of a vinaigrette.

Green Bean Salad with Duck Prosciutto Vinaigrette

3 c. (2 large handfuls) haricot vert or green beans, trimmed
1/3 c. chopped duck proscuitto (or use pancetta or thick cut bacon)
2 TB extra virgin olive oil, divided
Juice of 2 lemons
1/3 c. toasted slivered almonds
flaky sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Heat a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add in the haricot vert and blanch, cooking for about 1.5-2 minutes. Then remove the haricot vert and place immediately into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

While the haricot vert are cooling, make the dressing. Heat 1 TB extra virgin olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and cook until it releases some of it's fat and flavor into the oil, about 2 minutes (If you are using bacon instead, cook the bacon on its own without the oil until cooked through). Remove the prosciutto to a paper towel and reserve the cooking oil and allow to cool slightly.

Put the lemon juice into a small bowl. Add in the prosciutto cooking oil in a steady stream, whisking while doing so. Then slowly whisk in the remaining 1 TB extra virgin olive oil.

Dry off the cooled haricot vert and place into a medium bowl. Add the dressing, the prosciutto and the toasted almonds. Toss together and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Endive Pesto

A quick note before the post: I want to give a shout out to Bret Palmer who designed the new header for this blog. Bret is a good friend and a jack of all trades (he also took the photo of me to the right, married my husband and I, and is a kick-ass director). Check out his current projects at Element35.

Finally, finally the weather has turned. We may still be getting loads of rain, but there is actually the scent of spring in the air and the touch of warmth through the showers. Winter has passed on (for good, we hope). The time is ripe for fresh produce at the markets (I even snagged some ramps last weekend!) and simple preparations to allow the bright spring flavors to shine.

Since I will soon be wanting to restock my freezer with the bounty of the coming summer I am also taking this time to try to go through the final products I packed away last year. Of which I have a vast quantity of pesto. This "not-quite-a-recipe" is an excellent, simple way to serve up a variety of the harvest about to arrive.

Step 1: Take the vegetable you would like to serve up (say endive, radicchio, asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, etc) and clean. If the vegetable is very large, cut into pieces that will fit onto your grill or griddle pan.

Step 2: Place the vegetable directly onto a dry grill or griddle pan that has been heated to a medium-high heat. Cook on all sides until just slightly charred (with the lettuces this will be very fast--about 30 seconds-1 minute per side) and cooked through.

Step 3: Allow the vegetables to cool slightly and then chop into bite-sized pieces. Toss into a bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of pesto and some extra virgin olive oil to help thin it out and coat all of the veggies. Toss together and serve. Excellent served with grilled meats or barbecue.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mushroom, Bacon and Parmesan Salad

Growing up in small-town Kansas, meals for our family always meant a large chunk of meat accompanied by sides. Usually some kind of potato or starch and some veggie, and oftentimes bread, but incredibly rare were the meatless meals. A salad was just filler to the main event.

In college, meat was far too expensive to be consumed in quite the same way, but many a meal were still focused around those affordable cuts: hot dogs and pepperoni.

When I got married I fell back into the habit of centering all of our meals around the protein. Sides were always the afterthought. Many a time the side was only a salad of lettuce and ranch dressing.

Then I began to meet and dine with vegetarian friends and to read books such as Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and Michel Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma". I started to understand where most supermarket meat comes from and realized there were better options. I also came to realize that meat did not have to be the focus of every single meal. Through exploring these ideas I've also recognized that a salad can be the star of a meal itself. When well-balanced and well conceived it is a thing of beauty.

If you were able to sludge through the last few posts you may recognize this salad as the one we ate at Cuines de Santa Caterina and quite possibly the best salad I've ever had. The main components were obvious, although certain ingredients vary from what we can find here (I've never had such a light, almost sweet mushroom as on that salad--even though it looked like a plain button variety; and the "bacon" was similar to pancetta but had a definite richer flavor). The dressing I had to guess at and create all on my own--it was creamy, sweet and the ideal compliment to the other flavors. My version isn't quite the same, but it's close enough that we will be enjoying it over and over again this spring and summer--all on its own.

Mushroom, Bacon and Parmesan Salad
serves 3
4 cups mixed salad greens
4 pieces cooked and chopped bacon
1/4 lb crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 c. shaved Parmesan*

*Use your vegetable grater to shave off large, thin slices of Parmesan.
In a large bowl mix together the salad greens, bacon and crimini mushrooms. Pour the salad dressing over top and toss it all together. Top with the shaved Parmesan and serve immediately.

Creamy Sherry-Honey Dressing
1/4 c. honey
1/8 c. sherry vinegar
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1/2 t. mustard powder
1/3 c. olive oil

Whisk together all the ingredients into a small bowl until well combined. Taste for flavor and add a bit of salt and pepper if you would like. 

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Couscous Stuffed Peppers and Lemon Cucumber and Sugar Plum Salad

Sometimes there are ingredients that evoke the image of only one recipe and seem to stifle my creativity. Green peppers are one of those ingredients. I know there are so ways to use them but I always think about them in Asian or Mexican inspired dishes--sauteed for a stir fry or to use on tacos. Every once in a while I'll think of stuffing them, but again it's always in a Mexican style. This time around I really wanted to do something different with these peppers. I stuffed them with couscous, corn, and ground turkey and a little bit of parmesan cheese. Simple flavors, easy preparation, and a little different take on the classic. Paired up with the basic cucumber salad it makes a great weeknight dinner.

Couscous Stuffed Peppers
5 green peppers
1 box couscous
1 lb ground turkey
2 ears corn
3/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 c. bread crumbs

To begin, cook the couscous as per the box's instructions. Saute the ground turkey with a little salt and pepper and drain.
Preheat the oven to 350. Cut off the top of each of the green peppers and clean out the seeds and white parts inside. Cut off the kernels from the ears of corn.
In a large bowl mix together the cooked couscous and turkey, the corn, and 1/2 c. parmesan cheese. Stuff the mixture into the green peppers and place them into a baking dish.
In a small bowl mix together 1/4 c. parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs. Spread the mixture on top of each of the peppers. Bake for 40 minutes or until the peppers are tender and the topping is lightly browned.

Lemon Cucumber and Sugar Plum Salad
8 lemon cucumbers, peeled and sliced
6 sugar plums, chopped
3/4 c. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
2 TB sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Mix together the vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add in the cucumbers and sugar plums and toss together. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour before serving.

Friday, July 17, 2009

BBQ Beef Brisket, Bok Choy Cole Slaw, Lime-Basil Potato Salad

It really is finally starting to feel like summer around the city. The endless rain stopped and we've had some beautiful weather. Great weather to spend outdoors enjoying the parks and barbecuing. If I only had a grill.
We do take picnics to the park often, though. Some coffee and pastries or sandwiches. Then we'll lounge around and enjoy the clouds, smell of the grass and the breeze. Some days in Prospect Park, you can almost forget that you are in the big city.
The coming of summer has brought about that craving for BBQ. As Kansas City-ans, it's hard to find BBQ that lives up to our standards, but this meal was a pretty good substitute with a couple of new takes on old themes. I'm especially in love with the Bok Choy Cole slaw and have been devouring the leftovers like mad.
I want to send a quick shout-out to the new Franklin Ave. flea market open on Saturdays this summer. If you live in my neck of the woods, check it out! It's where I found the BBQ sauce for the brisket, courtesy of the Pour Gourmet.

BBQ Beef Brisket
1 1.75lb beef brisket
salt and pepper
2 TB cooking oil
1/2 c. chopped carrots
1/2 c. chopped celery
3/4 c. chopped onions
2 bottles lager
1 1/2 c. BBQ sauce

Preheat the oven to 325.
Salt and pepper all sides of the brisket well. Heat the cooking oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat and when hot brown the brisket on all sides (about 3-4 minutes each). Remove the meat from the pan and add the carrots, celery and onions to the hot oil. Cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Return the brisket to the pan and add the 2 bottles of lager. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover then pan tightly and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 hour, then flip the brisket over and return to the oven. Cook until fork tender, about another hour to hour and a half. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then remove the meat to a platter and shred. Place shredded meat into a large saute pan and add the BBQ sauce. Cook over medium heat until heated through. Serve over toasted country bread.

Bok Choy Cole Slaw
3 small heads of bok choy
3 carrots, shredded
1/2 c. finely minced onions
6 garlic scapes, chopped
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 t. celery salt
1/2 t. ground mustard
1 t. sesame oil
1 TB sugar
1/4 t. pepper

Chop the bok choy into thin shreds. Toss with the carrots, onions and garlic scapes. In a separate bowl mix together the vinegars, celery salt, ground mustard, sesame oil, sugar and pepper. Combine the dressing and the vegetables and then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Lime Basil Potato Salad
3 c. small red potatoes
1/2 c. olive oil
1/3 c. lime basil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Scrub the small potatoes and cut into large bite size pieces. Place in a large pan of boiling salted water and cook until tender, about 12-14 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
While the potatoes are cooking, blend together the olive oil, lime basil, salt and pepper in a food processor. Toss this oil with the potatoes to serve.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sides: Sesame Cucumber Salad, Potato Pancakes, Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Side dishes have a bad rap. They are often overlooked and only given a cursory second--or fourth--thought (entree, dessert, beverages...oh, yeah. We should have something green, too...). We will plop down some canned green beans or a side of rice with very little actual planning going into these dishes. However, with a little bit of forethought and planning, a great side dish will take your meal to the next level. When you are considering what to make for dinner think about the side dish right along with the entree: what flavors would pair well? How can you use one to compliment the other? When you match them together well you will feel as if you are eating in a restaurant instead of at your dining room table.

I think one of the reasons people give sides less thought is because they spend so much time on the entree and they don't have the time to fuss with extravagant extras. A perfect side dish, though, does not have to be complicated. For instance, you could just use the cooking juices from the meat to make up a sauce to drizzle over some steamed veggies. Also, there are many dishes where you can cook the vegetables/grains in with the proteins, saving time and dirty dishes.

Here I have a few side dishes to get you started on your side dish revolution. The Sesame Cucumber salad is simple, refreshing, and a perfect compliment to many summer favorites. The potato pancakes are a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes and a fun way to play around in the kitchen--the flavor combinations are endless. And finally a Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette that is not only good on salad greens, but is excellent tossed with tuna, hard boiled egg, capers and greens for a tasty snack or lunch.

Sesame Cucumber Salad
2 TB white wine vinegar
2 t. sesame oil
2 TB olive oil
1 cucumber, sliced
3 heads Belgian Endive, chopped
2 TB chopped wild onions (chives will work as well), minced

In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, sesame oil, and olive oil. In a separate bowl toss the cucumber, endive, and wild onions. Toss the vegetables with the dressing and serve.

Roasted Garlic Potato Pancakes
1 1/2 c. mashed potatoes, cooled
4-5 cloves roasted garlic
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 TB butter
1 TB olive oil

In a large bowl mix together the mashed potatoes, roasted garlic, parmesan cheese. Taste to see if you need to add any salt and pepper. Form the potato mixture into patties, about 2" in diameter and about 1/2" thick.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oils are hot add the potato pancakes and cook to a crispy brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 TB white wine vinegar
2 TB lemon juice
1/4 t. ground mustard
1/4 t. season salt
1/3 c. olive oil
salt and pepper

In a small bowl mix together the roasted garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, ground mustard and season salt. Add the olive oil in a slow drizzle while briskly whisking the roasted garlic mixture. You may need a little more olive oil to make a creamy, thick vinaigrette, and that is ok. Once the mixture is whisked together well taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.