Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey Tetrazzini

After three days of eating turkey, it needed a make over. So, I made turkey tetrazzini, it can be eaten with rice, boiled potatoes or pasta. I prefer egg noodles. This is a warm, cozy, comfort food-kind of dish. Waste not, want not.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
Big sprig of thyme
Cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper
4-6 cups diced turkey
6 oz. Parmesan Reggiano or Asagio cheese
10 oz. mushrooms (I used half white and half shitake mushrooms)
1 tbsp. butter
Dash of chicken broth
1-2 lbs. egg noodles
Chopped parsley for garnish

Melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk until incorporated for a few minutes. Slowly add 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup of milk. Add a nice big handful of thyme, nutmeg and cayenne pepper (use as much nutmeg and cayenne as you want -- always taste your product) and stir constantly until mixture has thickened. Basically, you have just made a bechamel sauce. Continue cooking sauce for about 5-7 minutes over medium-low heat, then remove thyme. Add 2 cups of broth, add the turkey and mix together. Turn up heat to medium-high and bring up to a low boil and lightly boil for a few minutes to incorporate flavors. Stir constantly so it doesn't burn. You may have to adjust your heat.

For Mushrooms:
In a separate saute pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, a pinch of salt, and the dash of chicken broth. What I mean by a "dash" of chicken broth is a quarter of a cup. Continue cooking mushrooms by stirring until they are soft enough to add to turkey mixture.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Roasted Whole Branzino with an Herb Garlic Rub

A branzino is a European sea bass, ranging from 1-3 pounds and has firm white flesh. Great for grilling and roasting. Here, I roasted it with a garlic and herb rub and it is the easiest thing in the world to do. 

1 Branzino, gutted; if you don't know how to do this, have your fish monger do it; leave the head on for presentation
Oregano, use as much as you want of these 3 herbs
3-4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Enough extra virgin olive oil to create a paste
1/2 lemon sliced into 4 slices

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with rack in the center of the oven. 

Make 4 scores with a sharp knife in the fish on both sides. Remove desired amount of herbs from the stalks and process in a small food processor with garlic, salt and pepper and just enough olive oil to create a paste. It will take about 1/8 cup of olive oil. Smear the inside of the fish with the paste and then continue smearing the paste over both sides of the fish.

Place the 4 slices of lemon into the cavity of the fish and place in a roasting pan that is just large enough to hold the fish. Place in oven and roast for 25 minutes. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chicken Milanese

Milanese is usually made with a veal cutlet -- pounded, very thin, breaded and then sauteed. But because some people have an issue with veal, I made this with chicken. It is usually topped with a chopped salad. It is good any time of the year, and you can put any kind of chopped salad you want on top, but it is usually made with arugula, tomatoes and red onion. I like to add a few slices of good quality Parmesan Reggiano. 

1 whole skinless chicken breast
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 oz unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

For salad (use as much as you would like):
Red onion (diced or sliced)
Cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
Radicchio (chopped; optional)
Parmesan Reggiano
Garlic lemon vinagrette (see previous post)

Assemble the flour, eggs and Panko in separate containers. Butterfly the chicken breast and place between two sheets of saran wrap and pound to about 1/4 inch thick with a meat pounder. If you don't have a meat pounder, you can buy one at any grocery store or have your butcher do it for you. 

Peel away the saran wrap. Salt and pepper chicken on both sides. Coat the cutlet in the flour, then the egg, then the bread crumbs, patting the bread crumbs so that they adhere to the chicken. Set aside. Prepare your salad and vinagrette, but do not dress until the last minute.

Next, in a saute pan large enough to hold the cutlet, heat 1-1/2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 1 oz of butter over medium-high heat. Do not let it burn. Add your cutlet. Cook for several minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a dish, add the rest of the extra virgin olive oil and butter and brown the other side.

Plate and place a mound of salad on top with a few slices of cheese and some of the grated lemon zest from the garlic vinagrette and a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. Even though this is one piece of chicken, adding all the other ingredients expands the size and two people could easily share this, so feel free to either indulge or share! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Puree of Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

Top with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream. Sprinkle some croutons on top and some chopped chives. Because this is a very hearty soup, you could serve this as an entree with a salad and a delicious piece of crusty bread. Because this recipe makes a large amount of soup, you can be sure people will ask for seconds or you can cut the recipe in half before cooking. It is hard to find small squashes, besides acorns, so I recommend if you take the time to make it, take the time to freeze out portions for another time. It should also be frozen before you add the milk or heavy cream.

3 lbs butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes)
2 lbs sweet potato (peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes)
1/2 oz ginger root (peeled and sliced)
1 Gala or Macintosh apple (cored and sliced; no need to peel)
1 large Vidalia onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
6 large cloves of garlic (peeled and chopped)
1-3 sprigs of thyme
1 large bay leaf
3 tbsp brown sugar
12 whole peppercorns
4 oz unsalted butter
2 cups apple cider
Milk, heavy cream or skim milk
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp or more nutmeg
1 oz Jack Daniels (optional)
Creme fraiche or sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
6x6 double layer of cheesecloth
4-inch piece of butcher's twine
For croutons:
Pepperidge Farm white bread

Over medium high heat, melt butter. Add onions and garlic and start to caramelize. Stir constantly, this will take about 5 minutes or so. You want to see them turn brown but not burn. You may have to adjust the heat. Add the Jack Daniels (optional) and stir for 1 minute or proceed with brown sugar. Add brown sugar and continue stirring until onions are a beautiful brown color.

Add the apple cider, chicken broth, nutmeg, sweet potato and squash. Bring up to boil. As you are waiting for squash to come up to a boil, make your spice sachet. Using the cheesecloth, place the bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns in center of cheesecloth. Gather up corners and twist. Now use the twine to tie up the bundle. Trim off ends of twine and any extra cheesecloth at the top. Add sachet to soup. 

When soup comes to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until potato and squash are very tender. Remove sachet and discard. Puree soup in batches in a blender or food processor and place in bowl large enough to hold each pureed batch. Wash out pot and return pureed soup to the pot. At this point, you will add the milk or skim milk (if you want less calories) or heavy cream (if you want a more luxurious texture). The amount of liquid you add is up to you, the soup should not be too thin or too thick. It is a matter or preference, but it should have good body. Reheat your soup but do not boil and add salt and pepper to taste. 

Directions for croutons:
Use about a half a slice of bread per person. Cut off the crusts and stack the bread on top of each other. Cut into half-inch slices and then half-inch cubes.

Melt as much butter as you want in a saute pan. Add croutons and constantly shake the pan back and forth. Remember the bread will soak up the butter so you need to use enough to get the croutons brown. Also to save calories, I use Grapeseed spray to coat and that can give you a good result as well. You can also use a soft spatula to toss the croutons around. It will take several minutes for them to brown. Season with a little salt. 

Ladle out soup, top with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream. Sprinkle some croutons on top and some chopped chives would be lovely as well. Because this is a very hearty soup, you could serve this as an entree with a salad and a delicious piece of crusty bread. Because this recipe makes a large amount of soup, you can be sure people will ask for seconds or you can cut the recipe in half before cooking. It is hard to find small squashes, besides acorns, so I recommend if you take the time to make it, take the time to freeze out portions for another time. It should also be frozen before you add the milk or heavy cream.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How to Cook the Perfect Steak Without a Grill

Grilling season is coming up and some of us who don't have backyards with grills because we live in cities should not despair. You do not need a grill to make a delicious steak. In fact, this is my favorite way to make steak as the butter seals in all the juices and creates a delicious crust.

1 2-inch prime ribeye steak
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 large sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 oz of unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack in center of the oven.

Generously salt and pepper the steak. In an over-proof pan that is just big enough to hold your steak, melt the butter and olive oil on medium-high heat and sear steak approximately 2 minutes on each side until golden-brown. 

Pop pan in the oven and roast for approximately 5-7 minutes for med-rare. Use a digital thermometer in center to test temp if you do not know how to test by hand yet. It should read 120-125 degrees for rare, 130 for medium rare (but remember, it continues to cook when you take it out of the oven, so I recommend taking it out a few minutes early to achieve the results you want). I prefer this cut of meat medium-rare; anything under or over makes it tough. I also recommend placing it on a platter so it does not remain in the hot pan cooking away. Let meat rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Roasted Salmon with Creamed Fennel and Onions

This recipe is simple, delicious, very elegant, and great for dinner parties. You can substitute the salmon with halibut or monkfish. Remember to buy wild fish only.

2 pieces of salmon 5-6 oz each
1 small fennel bulb, with root removed and thinly sliced
1 small-medium onion, thinly sliced
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled, sliced, and julienned (thin strips)
2 oz ginger liquor, I like to use Domaine de Canton -- they make the prettiest little 50mL bottles, drink what's left, use it as a vase
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 oz good quality chicken broth 
2 oz heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and start preparing your vegetables. Salt and pepper both sides of salmon, some people like the skin, some don't; have your fish monger remove it if you don't. Place in a saute pan, non stick is ok and place in heated oven in center rack while you do your creamed fennel. The skin will cook without having to sear it. Salmon will take about 15-20 minutes; if you like salmon on the rarer side, check it after 15 minutes. You can remove the skin after salmon is cooked as well.

Heat oil on medium-high in a non-stick pan and add sliced fennel, onion, and ginger with a generous pinch of salt. Lower heat to medium and sweat for approximately 7-10 minutes. Adjust heat if it starts to brown. "Sweating" is to soften the vegetables without adding color. Add the ginger liquor, cook for a minute or two and then add the 4 oz of chicken stock, stir, cover, and continue to soften the vegetables over medium heat. This only takes about 5 minutes or so. You can judge by tasting a piece of fennel and if it is soft or has a bite, adjust your cooking time. Stir occasionally until stock is almost absorbed and vegetables are soft. 

When veggies are softened, the salmon should be just about done. Test the temperature with your handy dandy digital thermometer or pinch the salmon with your fingers; there should be some spring to it, meaning it will be about medium. Remember less time for medium rare. Remove from oven and tent with tin foil while you finish your fennel.

Add 2 oz of the heavy cream to the fennel, salt and pepper to taste, stir to incorporate. Place desired portion in center of plate and place 1 piece of salmon on top. Accompaniments can be rice, roasted potatoes, and a salad.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shrimp in Tomato Sauce Infused with Tomato Oil

Sprinkle chopped parsley on top and serve with a side of simple plain rice, a salad and a piece of crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

10 jumbo shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
6 large garlic cloves (chopped)
6 large plum tomatoes (chopped)
Parsley for garnish
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For tomato basil oil:
3-4 oz sundried tomatoes in oil
10 large basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil

First, make your tomato basil oil. In a small food processor, pulse the basil leaves and sundried tomatoes until it is coarsely mixed. With your food processor set to puree, slowly drizzle enough olive oil to form a loose paste. Then put in a fine mesh strainer lined with one layer of cheese cloth. Place over a bowl and let the oil drip to separate the oil from the solids. You will end up with a small amount of tomato basil oil -- enough for 3-4 servings.

Quarter and seed the tomatoes. Discard the pulp, and then slice the tomatoes into three strips and evenly dice. Repeat for the rest of the tomatoes. Saute diced tomatoes and chopped garlic over medium heat in 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil until the tomatoes soften. Add tomato basil oil, as little or as much as you want, then add the shrimp and saute until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Do not overcook.

Goat Cheese Quiche

This quiche is easy to make and elegant. You can add bacon or ham if you want something more rubust. I serve it with salad and garlic toast.

1 store bought 9-inch deep dish pie shell (you can make your own dough, but for you busy bees out there store bought is completely acceptable)
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
Pinch of nutmeg
1 large onion (diced)
3/4 cup heavy cream (if you want to reduce calories use light cream or even whole milk or a combination)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 oz of good quality goat cheese
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven. Saute onions and a pinch of salt in olive oil over medium heat until almost soft. Then, turn heat to medium-high to caramelize the onions. Adjust your heat if you have to -- don't burn them.

Spread onions over the bottom of the pie shell, distribute goat cheese in chunks over the onions and prepare the custard. Mix the eggs, heavy cream, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste and thoroughly whisk to incorporate. I dip my finger in to taste the custard to make sure the seasoning is correct. If you have an issue with raw egg, don't taste it and you will learn what the tart needs or doesn't need when it's done.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes and until center is set. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Marinated Flank Steak with Curried Couscous Salad

1 small flank steak (it's more than enough for 2 people)
2 sprigs rosemary
6 sprigs thyme
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Couscous (1 box -- just make the whole damn box...SOMEONE will eat it the next day)
Chicken broth (instead of water when you prepare the couscous)
1 large carrot (peeled and diced)
12 grape tomatoes (cut in half)
1/2 zucchini (diced)
1/2 red bell pepper (diced)
1/4 cup peas (freshly blanched or frozen)
1/4 cup red onion (diced)
3 scallions (chopped)
2 tbsp currants (you can use more if you'd like)
1/4 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
Pinch of red pepper flakes (to taste)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for 2 servings; adjust for the whole box)
4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp curry powder
Salt and freshly 

Combine marinade ingredients for flank steak in a blender or small food processor and process until slightly chunky. Put the meat in a bowl large enough to hold it and pour the marinade over it. 

Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight. When ready for use, bring to room temperature. Remove the meat from marinade and blot on paper towels and hold until ready to cook. While your meat is coming to room temperature, make your couscous. Meanwhile, either heat up your grill or broiler in preparation to cook the meat.

Follow the couscous directions on the box. Use chicken broth instead of water. Fluff up with a fork and transfer to a bowl to cool. Keep fluffing up so it is not lumpy because the couscous should be room temperature before you add your vegetables.

When couscous is cool enough to handle, add all your diced vegetables and parsley, stir until incorporated. Make your vinagrette. The couscous soaks up a lot of vinagrette, so be prepared to make more just in case and taste as you go. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature. 

Grill or broil your flank steak for 6-8 minutes on each side but remember to check after 4 minutes on one side. This will give you medium rare meat. Let meat sit for at least 15 minutes before you slice.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tandoori Chicken additional information

If you do not have a grill, broil chicken until brown, then roast in oven at 350 degrees until done. Remember to check internal temp of chicken, should be 165.

Grilled Tandoori Chicken Kabobs with Jasmine Rice

Place desired amount of rice on a plate and a skewer of chicken on top. You can spoon some dipping sauce directly on chicken or use for dipping.

For marinade:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp of dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek 2% works nicely if you want less fat)
2 minced cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 red pepper, cut into 6 pices
1 green pepper, cut into 6 pieces
1/2 white onion, cut into thirds and separate into six pieces 
1/2 zucchini, sliced into 6 equal chunks
2 whole skinless chicken breasts (cut into 3 equal chunks)
2 wooden or metal skewers 

For dipping sauce:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 small bunch mint (leaves only
1/2 cucumber (shredded and dried on paper towel)
1 garlic clove (smashed and minced finely)
1/8 -1/4 cup coconut milk or plain milk to loosen if needed
Pinch of salt
small food processor or blender

For rice:
1 cup jasmine rice
chicken broth (instead of water)
2 pats of butter
1/2 half white onion small dice (use the other half from the marinade)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of frozen peas or fresh (blanched)
1/4 cup slivered almonds 
1/4 cup currants 

In a small saute pan, over medium-high heat, toast the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, garam marsala, paprika, cardamom, and ginger until brown and toasty looking. This will take 2-3 minutes.

Add the toasted herbs, oregano, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, freshly ground pepper and salt to the yogurt and mix thoroughly. In a bowl, toss and coat chicken and cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. If you don't have that much time, 3-4 hours will work but the flavors will not be as intense.

While chicken is marinating, you will have time to cut up red and green peppers, zucchini, and the onion. After chicken is done marinating, alternate vegetables and chunks of chicken on the skewers (if you are using wooden skewers soak them in water for several hours beforehand so they don't burn on the grill).

Preheat your grill to around 375 degrees and make sure you have sprayed the grill first so the chicken doesn't stick. I like to spray each side of skewers before I place on grill as well (I prefer Grapeseed spray but any kind of cooking spray will do). Grill chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees. Remember part of cooking is learning how to gage doneness so check center of chicken after 3-4 min. You can use a digital thermometer, I find they work best. If the heat seems too high you can lower it so the vegetables don't burn. You may have to spray the sides again in order to ensure that nothing sticks. 

In a pot large enough for rice, saute the diced onion and a pinch of salt in the butter until translucent over med-low heat. Lower heat if necessary. This should take about five minutes. They will cook more as the rice cooks. Add chicken stock instead of water and follow the directions on box. Meanwhile, defrost peas and immerse in boiling water right before adding to cooked rice. In a small saute pan, dry toast (meaning no fat is necessary) the almonds over med-high heat by shaking pan until they are a golden brown.

When rice is done add the peas, toasted almonds and currants. Correct the seasonings with salt and pepper and gently stir to combine. You really do not need much salt depending on the broth you use unless you prefer more salt.

While rice is cooking, make your dipping sauce. In a processor or blender, blend together the yogurt, garlic, mint leaves and coconut or milk. When loose enough to pour but not too loose, transfer to a bowl and add shredded cucumber.  Stir to combine and enjoy. If you do not have a blender or processor, finely chop mint and add to other ingredients.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pasta Margarita

It would be nice to pair this simple pasta recipe with sauteed broccoli rabe (blanch broccoli rabe first for a couple of minutes, dry on paper towels and saute in olive oil and sliced garlic -- tutorial upon request), or a simple green salad, a nice piece of crusty bread with olive oil and a glass of wine. This can also be made with gluten-free pasta. Enjoy!

4 oz spaghetti
2 cans crushed tomatoes in puree (I prefer San Marzano)
1 fresh Mozzarella ball (cut up into half-inch cubes, use as much as you want)
2 oz tomato paste
1 grated medium-sized carrot
4 sprigs thyme (leaves removed)
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large bay leaf
6 or more fresh basil leaves (julienned)
1 large onion (diced)
6 large garlic cloves (minced)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tbsp
Grated parmesan reggiano or asiago cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add onions, minced garlic and red pepper flakes (you can add more red pepper if you want sauce spicier). Reduce to medium heat and add a generous pinch of salt. Stir to incorporate and continue cooking stirring every few minutes until the onions are translucent. This should take about 7 or 8 minutes. Lower the heat if you have to, as you do not want color.

Next, add the grated carrot and tomato paste, stir and cook for one minute. Then add the thyme, basil, oregano and bay leaf. Slowly pour in tomatoes and gently stir to incorporate. Bring up to boil and then reduce heat to simmer for one hour. Stir occasionally. After the sauce is done, you can correct the seasonings by adding salt and freshly ground black pepper.

As sauce is simmering, fill a stock pot with water (don't forget to salt your water!). A few minutes before sauce is done, bring up water to boil and add the spaghetti and cook according to directions on box. I like mine al dente, you might like yours softer. 

Put the cooked pasta in a bowl, ladle sauce on top, add diced mozzarella and toss to coat. Divide among two bowls and garnish with the julienned basil and grated parmesan reggiano or asiago. Drizzle each serving with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Roasted Chicken

This is a simple roasted chicken that anybody can do. The most important part to master is how to properly truss a chicken. Serve with its own natural jus.

1 3 1/2-4 lb organic chicken
Butcher's Twine

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in the center of oven. In a separate bowl, combine 2 tbsp Kosher salt and 1 tsp freshly ground pepper (if this is too much salt and pepper for you, use less...but, it won't be as good). Rinse the chicken and then pat it dry with paper towels thoroughly. Use a pinch or two to salt and pepper the inside cavity of the chicken. 

Removing Wishbone:

This step is very important to being able to cut the chicken properly after it is cooked. If you clean the wishbone and let it dry, make a wish and hope it comes true.

At the neck of the chicken, locate with your fingers the wishbone. It will feel like an upside-down "V". With a pairing knife, cut around the wishbone and remove in one piece. Sometimes this takes practice and it will break, but make sure you get both sides and the top piece. Now you are ready to truss your chicken.

Trussing the Chicken:

This step is very important to ensure even cooking and a plumper looking chicken. 
Step 1: Cut off the upper wings because they will just burn, leaving the wing itself.
Step 2: Using about 2 feet of butcher's twine, turn the chicken legs away from you, and wrap twine around the bottom legs and make an "X" as shown above. 

Step 3: Tighten the "X" and wrap around the bottom of the thigh, covering the wing and bringing it around to the neck bone, wrap twine around it and knot tightly. If there is not enough neck bone, it is OK to just bring the twine past the wing and underneath. Cut the extra twine off and season your chicken all over with the rest of the salt and pepper. 
Side Note: You can also add garlic power or spices such as thyme, rosemary, sage, and you can stuff the cavity with a clove of garlic and a sprig of thyme or rosemary. I prefer plain so I can play with the sauce.

Put the seasoned chicken in a roasting pan or saute pan large enough to hold the chicken with room on the sides. If the pan is too big, the juices will burn. Put the chicken in the center of the rack in your oven, and roast for approximately 1 and a half hours or until internal temperature of thigh is 165 degrees. There is no need to open the over or baste the chicken. Remove promptly and let sit for 10 minutes before you carve it. Defat the jus and serve.

Roasted Halibut with Soy-Lemon Butter Emulsion

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare Halibut, but you can use any other meaty fish such as salmon or seabass. I prefer a little more soy sauce, but it is a matter of preference. I also like to braise baby bok choy with this dish, but you can use any vegetable you wish.

1 6-8 oz Halibut fillet
1/4 cup chicken broth or stock (homemade or store bought)
1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce (or to taste)
1 pat of cold butter
5 oz baby spinach
1 large Shitake mushroom
Grapeseed oil
Black pepper

For Fish:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season fish with freshly-ground pepper (no salt, as you will get your salt from the sauce). In a small saute pan, use 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil and heat over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add seasoned piece of fish -- you should hear it sizzle. Sear for 1-2 minutes.

Turn the fish over with tongs (fish should release from pan easily if seared properly. If it doesn't, wait a few seconds and try to turn then). Sear other side 1-2 minutes, then put pan in oven for approximately 8-10 minutes. Do not overcook because the Halibut will be dry.

For Spinach and Mushrooms:

Steam or saute spinach in one tbsp of grapeseed oil until wilted, then place in the center of a shallow bowl. Keep warm. Steam or saute mushroom the same way as the spinach. When fish is done, place it on top of the spinach, remembering to keep warm. Slice Shitake mushroom on the bias and arrange over fish.


Using same saute pan that you used for the fish (use pot holders as the pan handle will be hot), add chicken broth, soy sauce, and a squeeze of lemon. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. This takes only a few minutes.

To finish sauce, add 1 pat of cold butter and whisk until incorporated. Carefully pour sauce over fish and serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Classic Curly Frisee Salad with Poached Eggs, Lardons and Croutons

This is great as lunch or an appetizer on it's own. For dinner, accompany salad with a soup, maybe vichyssoise. Bon appetit!

2 large eggs
1 bunch of curly frisee (use the tender green parts)
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp of sherry or champagne vinegar (or use more depending on how acidic you like your dressings)
2 cloves of garlic
1 slice thick bacon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Gourmet croutons or homemade

Serves one


Fill a bigger saute pan with enough water and a splash of vinegar (vinegar helps to hold the whites together) to submerge eggs; I like to make an extra egg or so just in case a yolk breaks; also, a non-stick pan helps; bring water up to boil, reduce to simmer, and slowly break your eggs into the hot water; turn up the heat a bit but not to a boil and using a slotted spoon bathe the yolks gently with water until the whites are cooked and the yolk is translucent, but still runny; transfer to a plate with paper towels on it and tent with tinfoil to keep warm


You can use any good gourmet crouton or make your own by using stale bread, cutting them up into bite-size pieces, coating them in olive oil with a little salt and pepper, and baking them in the oven at 375 degrees until golden brown and crisp.

To Assemble Salad:

Work fast, so your eggs don't get cold! Dress your clean frisee with as much vinagrette as you like, approximately 2-3 tablespoons (so you will have extra dressing for another time -- just refrigerate and it will last for about a week). Then, salt and pepper your salad to taste and toss to fully incorporate vinagrette. 

Garnish with lardons and as many croutons as you want. Then, add warm eggs to the top of the salad. This is a lunch-sized serving, if you wanted to do an appetizer, cut the recipe in half and only use one egg. Now remember, you can use as much bacon and croutons as you want -- there are no rules, you can make this recipe your own!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa with Avocado Mousse and Salmon Roe

Recipes are only foundations, so my suggestion to you is to make them your own! The "avocado mousse" and the "tomato salad" recipes are two variations of dishes that I had on a recent trip to Chile. My friend Liz Caskey (of Culinary and Wine Experiences, she also has several cook books) had a small cocktail party at her home in Chile for our group where she served her versions of these recipes. She is a talented cook herself and also organizes these fantastic culinary and wine tours in Chile and Argentina. My daughter, Leni, and I ate the most delicious regional and "food-forward" dishes, as well as drank some of the finest wines coming out of Chile today. So, I must give credit where credit is due -- I recommend her website to anyone interested in broadening their culinary horizons!

Leni and I loved Chile, the food, and the people so much that I decided to make these recipes "my own". So, today's recipe is for the avocado mousse appetizer, and you will see how by making even the smallest changes, I have made it my own. So feel free to make your own changes so you, too, can call it your own.

*Recipe serves 4-6 people

For tomatillo:
1lb fresh tomatillos
1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1-2 fresh Serrano chiles
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup water
Salt to taste

Take the husk off of the tomatillo and rinse under cold water so they're not sticky; pat dry. Coarsely puree in a blender or a food processor the tomatillos, chiles, onion, garlic, and water. Place in a skillet, bring up to boil, and reduce to simmer until mixture thickens -- this takes about 15 minutes to reduce. Cool mixture down completely before using, then add chopped cilantro, lime juice, and salt to taste.

1 1/2 lbs fresh tomatoes, seeded and cored (just use flesh)
1 tsp fresh cilantro
Salt to taste

Chop into small dice, approximately a quarter of an inch. Place in a bowl, add quarter of a cup of tomatillo salsa (or more depending on your preference), and stir gently until combined. You could add more chopped cilantro and salt to taste -- too much cilantro can be overpowering and too much salt will make vegetables release too much water, so careful on the salt because you are topping the dish with caviar.

Avocado mousse:
3 Haas avocados, ripe but not mushy
1/2 of a fresh lemon
3 tbsp heavy cream

1 jar salmon roe to top each dish (or enough for 1 tsp per serving)

Cut avocados in half, remove seed and scoop avocado into a bowl. Add a squeeze of half the lemon to help retain green color. Then add the heavy cream. Mash with a fork and then using an electric hand mixer or a Braun handheld food mixer (you can get these at any decent kitchen store) whip until very smooth, like a mousse with no lumps.

To assemble:
I like to use martini glasses for this dish so you can see every layer, or you can use clear shooter glasses if you want a smaller recipe (just make sure a spoon fits in them or use a demitasse spoon).  Place about a one-inch layer of tomato and tomatillo salsa on the bottom of glass, and smooth to fit bottom of glass. Then add a 1-inch layer of avocado mousse, and smooth around the glass to create a neat appearance and so that both layers can be seen (see photo for reference). Add one teaspoon of salmon roe. For a decadent appetizer, use any good caviar. Chill in refrigerator for a couple of hours (2 hours should be sufficient), then serve immediately. Enjoy!