Today was one of those days – rainy, overcast, dreary, and oh, Monday. I also had a ton of things in my fridge that I need to clean out and organize. What a better day than today to do that, and whip up something delicious with all those goodies that needed to be used up.
I had a whole spatchcocked chicken that I had already grilled and roasted last week, plus a bunch of spinach, shallots, some white beans and garlic. I thought I’d make a healthy and delicious Lemony Rosemary Chicken Pasta with Greens and Beans served in a silky, savory sauce made with lemon zest and juice, white wine, butter, olive oil and chicken stock; infused with red pepper flakes, rosemary, aged Ricotta Salata and topped off with some toasted walnuts for extra crunch.
It’s such an easy and satisfying dish to make and it’s super healthy too, with tons of protein from the chicken and beans, and vitamin c from the spinach and lemon..and the silky savory sauce is just beautiful – light and bright, perfect for Spring. I also used a whole wheat penne pasta for some extra fiber and nutty flavor to go with the toasted walnuts which give a super nice crunchy texture.
All you need is a glass of lovely white wine, and maybe some crunchy toasted bread with olive oil and more grated cheese to go with it. And forget that the sun isn’t out today. And that it’s cold and dreary. And that it’s Monday.
And just be happy where you are, right here. Right now.
This is a light and bright lemony pasta dish with roasted shredded chicken, sauteed spinach, white beans, garlic, shallots, and rosemary in a light wine and chicken broth sauce with grated ricotta salata cheese and topped with toasted walnuts for extra crunch.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, diced
1 1/2 bunches of fresh spinach
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine or dry sherry
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 cup aged ricotta salata cheese (or grated parmesan)
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (grilled or rotisserie)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
1/2 cup walnuts, crushed and toasted
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Wash and trim spinach, cut shallots and garlic, drain white beans, zest and juice lemon and set aside along with other prepped ingredients (broth, wine, half and half, cheese, rosemary, red pepper flakes.)
Heat olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute shallots for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute.
Increase heat to medium high, add spinach, red pepper flakes and rosemary; saute together for about 5 minutes until spinach is wilted, but still bright green.
Add the cannelini beans and saute, stirring together for another few minutes until heated through.
Add chicken broth, wine, lemon juice and zest and continue cooking with spinach and beans for a few minutes. Add the half and half and grated ricotta cheese, stir to combine.
Stir in the cooked shredded chicken and cook until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, keep warm on medium-low heat.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta and drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the saute pan with the chicken, greens and beans, adding the reserved pasta water and stir to combine.
Crush the walnuts into small pieces and toast over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes in a small saute pan until lightly browned and nutty flavor.
Serve the pasta in large bowls with additional grated cheese, toasted walnuts, and salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe calls for whole wheat penne but you can use any pasta you desire.
You can also experiment with other types of greens - chard, beet greens, dandelion greens, etc.
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese can also be used if you can't find aged Ricotta Salata.
Toasted pine nuts or breadcrumbs would also be great in place of the toasted walnuts.
So it’s Friday. And a lovely Spring day. I was in the mood to make something lovely to eat, preferably with a sweet and savory twist. I’ve also been on a baking kick lately, not sure why but I’m loving experimenting with different flavors and textures of pizzas and tarts and pies.
I decided to make a delicious rustic pizza made with some redgrapes, shallots, sharp white cheddar and mozzarellacheese, and some thin cut Italianham. I simply rolled out some refrigerated pizza dough and then topped it off with some olive oil, all the pizza ingredients, and some fresh thyme.
I popped it into a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes until all the cheese and crust was bubbly and golden brown, then finished this beauty off with some sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, some fresh basil and drizzles of honey.
This is the best thing I have ever tasted in my life. Seriously. The contrast of the sweet grapes, shallots and honey with the sharp and tangy cheddar cheese and salty, crispy ham are like a true love affair…in Paris.
I’m thinking the only thing better than this would be an actual trip to Paris..on the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset. With a chocolate croissant and cafe au lait in hand. With a really cute French guy. Ooh La La.
Aaah – a girl can dream, can’t she? (Happy Friday!)
Rustic Pizza with Ham, Grapes, Shallots, Cheese, Honey & Thyme
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serving Size: 1 slice/wedge
1 package of refrigerated pizza dough (or homemade if you prefer)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere or Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded extra sharp White Cheddar cheese
4-6 thin slices Italian ham or prosciutto
1/2 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Honey for drizzling
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Spray a pizza sheet with oil and stretch out pizza dough to the edges making a thin crust.
Drizzle the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with the shredded Mozzarella cheese. Add the sliced shallots, ham, grapes and White cheddar cheese on to the dough evenly. Top with some fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes.
Bake for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.
Top with fresh basil, sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with honey.
Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
You can also substitute prosciutto or bacon for the ham, and top with some fresh ricotta cheese if desired.
Classic Greek Moussaka is one of the most popular Greek dishes, and a staple “comfort food” and main course meal in Greece (as Lasagna is in Italy). This tasty Greek dish is a culinary delight to those who sample it for the first time, and I experienced it when I went on a trip to the Greek Islands a few years ago for my birthday.
Some friends and I were in Santorini, a beautiful island in Greece in the Aegean Sea with pastel colors and gorgeous views, eating at a restaurant in Oia called Pelekanos, nestled up in the hills overlooking the sea.
The sun was setting, the relaxing music was playing softly in the background and the atmosphere was just perfect. The waiters graciously came over and attended to our every need, and made our dinner a spectacular night with their attention to detail not only in the food and wine, but our dining experience overall.
The table was elegantly set, with fine china, white tablecloths, crystal glasses and silverware with beautiful flowers as a centerpiece. The waiters filled our glasses with water and wine, lit the candles on the table and gave us recommendations of the specials and enlightened us on some of their popular Greek dishes on the menu.
As we joyously dined, they quickly cleared our plates when we were finished eating, filled our glasses when they were half full, and stood by the table a few feet away with a watchful, attentive eye, to let us know they were on stand by for service, but just far enough away to not be obtrusive on our dining experience.
They always had a smile on their faces and let us stay at the table long enough to enjoy our dinner, engage in great conversation, take photos of our food and engage in the gorgeous bright red sunset that was going down over the ocean as we sat and viewed it in awe. I felt like I was sitting in a little piece of heaven up there and never wanted to leave.
One of the most delicious dishes I ever tasted was the Moussaka, which I ordered that night. It was a perfect mixture of spicy meat at the bottom, layered with potatoes and tender eggplant, and tons of béchamel and gooey cheese on top. The vegetables were steaming as I dug into this gorgeous meat and vegetable pie – my mouth watered at the sight and smell of it. I became so obsessed with this luscious Greek dish that I decided I needed to make it for my big Greek birthday party when I got home from vacation.
Moussaka can be made in many variations, but the classic recipe uses layers of eggplant, potatoes, a spicy meat and tomato sauce with a touch of cinnamon and a rich and delicious béchamel sauce and bubbly kefalotyri cheese on top. Other variations are Moussaka with zucchini or artichokes instead of eggplant, ground lamb instead of ground beef, or vegetarian-style with zucchini, eggplant and potatoes without the meat. Either way you make it, with its warm and rich flavors and gooey cheese you’ll be hooked.
I made this recipe with zucchini and potatoes, and combined ground lamb with ground beef together. The combination of all the spices from the meat and seasonings soak into the vegetables and once you layer some creamy béchamel and gooey cheese on top, you’ve got yourself a delicious heartwarming dish. Be careful to pat dry the vegetables though before layering in the baking dish, as you don’t want the liquids to make the Moussaka too watery as they are cooked down in the oven.
You’ll need a lot of time and kitchen space to make this dish, and if you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll be safe to double the recipe and make two large rectangular baking dishes of it, as it won’t last long. The flavors in this dish really improve if you make it a day ahead. It’s also a very filling dish, so you may want to serve it as the main course, and accompany it with a Greek Salad, some Stuffed Grape Leaves and Tzaziki for a light side dish along with some Garlic Lemon Hummus and grilled pita. Serve with a red Greek wine and a shot of Ouzo as an aperitif.
Cut the zucchini/eggplant and potatoes into slices about 1/2 inch thick. If using eggplant instead of zucchini, peel the eggplant first. Brown the vegetables quickly in 1/4 cup of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until lightly golden brown, transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside.
Heat the remaining ¼ cup of oil in the same skillet and cook the onions until they are?golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the ground meat, tomato paste, cinnamon, cayenne, and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Pour off excess fat through a strainer and return meat mixture to the pan. Then add the wine, cooking until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato puree to the meat mixture and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer over low heat;?stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir in the parsley and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Remove the?mixture from heat.
Make the Bechamel Sauce:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Make the white sauce by melting the butter?and blending in the flour, stirring with a wire whisk until smooth. Meanwhile, bring the milk to a boil and add it gradually to the butter-flour mixture,? stirring constantly. When the mixture is thickened and smooth, remove ?it from the heat. Cook slightly and stir in the beaten eggs, nutmeg, lemon zest and ricotta.
Assemble the casserole:
Grease an 11x16-inch baking dish or casserole dish and sprinkle the bottom lightly with?breadcrumbs.
Arrange alternate layers of the zucchini/eggplant and potatoes and meat sauce?in the pan, sprinkling each layer with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
Pour the bechamel sauce over the top and sprinkle some additional Parmesan cheese on top. Bake 1 hour, or until top is golden.
Remove from the oven and cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
Top with additional chopped fresh parsley. Cut into squares and serve.
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I’ve been on a spicy food kick lately. Maybe it’s the pseudo-Spring weather. Or maybe I’m just addicted. I decided to make a fun twist on pizza and make a seriously delicious Taco Pizza. Yes, TACOS. And PIZZA. All baked into a bubbling pile of goodness. This Taco Pizza is the easiest thing to make, and the best tasting thing on the planet. Like a fiesta in your mouth.
I had a bunch of Pillsbury Crescent Dough in the fridge, as well as a ton of fresh ingredients I wanted to use up. Yes, I could have made Nachos. Or Burritos. Or Enchiladas. Or even a Taco Salad. But why not make a Taco Pizza? It was Friday after all. And Fridays are made for FUN FOOD, arent’ they?
The crust is super buttery and flaky and a delicious canvas for this Taco Monster creation.
The pizza is topped with all the goodies you would make tacos with – salsa, ground beef, taco seasoning, black beans and onions,
with a layer of fresh veggies like black olives, tomatoes, jalapenos; and of course plenty of shredded cheddar cheese.
Just layer all the goods on the dough, pop it in a 375 degree oven and bake for about 13-16 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese is melty-ooey-gooey.
Then, top it with some chopped cilantro, a few dabs of sour cream and some wavy corn chips for extra crunch.
Serious YUM. And perfect for a Friday afternoon. With a margarita or two, of course.
A seriously delicious Taco Pizza made with ground beef, tomatoes, jalapenos, olives, black beans and cheese, topped with sour cream, cilantro and crunchy corn chips baked on a crescent dough crust.
2 cans (8 ounce) Pillsbury crescent dough
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped (or 1 tablespoon minced dried onion)
1 package taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
1 cup chunky salsa
10-12 cherry or plum tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeno, sliced
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup wavy corn chips, for garnish
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish
1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Separate dough into 2 long rectangles and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press perforations to seal into one large rectangle of dough. Repeat for second pizza.
In a large skillet, saute ground beef, onions and black beans until cooked through and meat is no longer pink. Drain grease, and add taco seasoning and 1/4 cup of water, mix together well and keep warm, covered.
Prep the veggies and pizza topping ingredients.
Layer the dough with the salsa, 1/2 cup for each pizza.
Top dough with the taco beef and bean mixture, olives, tomatoes, jalapenos and shredded cheese on both sheets.
Bake for 13-16 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.
Garnish pizzas with corn chips, sour cream and fresh cilantro.
Cut each pizza into 6 squares and serve hot.
You can also substitute shredded chicken, ground chicken or turkey or pulled pork for the ground beef.
A regular pizza dough crust can also be used in place of the crescent dough.
The holidays are rapidly approaching, and that means plenty of parties, get-togethers and entertaining with family and friends which is why this is my favorite time of year! I always love to get together with friends and family and have a holiday brunch where we all bring a lovely dish, and sit around the table eating, drinking and talking for hours as we catch up on each other’s lives and laugh a little. That’s what the holidays are all about in my opinion. Sharing, laughing, loving, eating and drinking.
One of my favorite things to make for brunch is a Holiday Strata, a delicious breakfast casserole, made with bread, milk, cheese, eggs, ham or bacon, and some fresh sautéed veggies all baked in to a big pot of goodness. It’s rich, creamy, hearty and incredibly delicious, a savory bread pudding, if you will – and a great way to use some of your leftover holiday ham, veggies and cheese! It goes great with a green salad, some fresh fruit and mimosas (and of course lots of coffee, tea and holiday pastries on the side!)
This recipe is really easy to make, especially with my amazing KitchenAid® Artisan® Series Stand Mixer. The best part about making a Strata is that you just throw all the wet ingredients and spices in the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk it all together on low speed for a few minutes to beat the eggs, milk and cheese together. Then you layer all the ingredients in the casserole dish the night before, allowing the bread to soak up all the luscious custard and flavors overnight, and then you just pop it in the oven and bake it in the morning. (And maybe even get to sleep in a little or go back to bed while it’s cooking!)
I used a baked white loaf for the bread, but you could also use whole wheat or even Challah bread for a touch of sweetness. You can also substitute crumbled sausage, bacon or pancetta for the ham, and experiment with using some different cheeses if you like (I used shredded mozzarella, but any cheese that melts well like a Gruyere, Swiss or Cheddar will work great). You can also substitute broccoli instead of spinach, or throw in some colorful peppers to add some extra color – the possibilities are endless, and all tasty using the same base recipe I created.
Baked calzones are one of my favorite Italian dishes to make when I want an alternative to pizza or pasta. Calzones are savory turnovers filled with meat, veggies and cheese, baked into little pockets of tasty goodness, served with a side of fresh tomato sauce for dipping.
For a recent KitchenAid recipe challenge for the Kitchenthusiast blog, I made some delicious Savory Veggie and Cheese Scones Filled with More Cheese & Meat – stuffed, baked calzones, but made with an herb and cheese scone dough that is light and buttery and super tasty.
They are filled with tons of fresh veggies: tricolor peppers, onions, garlic and spinach with a little spicy Italian sausage and more cheese inside.
I made the scone dough with my new KitchenAid 11-cup Food Processorthat I absolutely love – it does everything from making the dough, to chopping the veggies to shredding the cheese and making the homemade fresh tomato marinara sauce!
I recently got invited to the Annual Pie PartyGEPotluck with a group of food professionals from NYC, NJ and PA, and in order to attend you had to be a food professional and of course, bring a unique and delicious pie. Tickets to this awesome event were a hot commodity and sold out as always, so thanks to Harvard Common Press for releasing an extra ticket last minute me! I knew everyone would probably bring an array of sweet, and gooey pies and tarts – enough to make you swoon and pass out from a sugar coma.
I’m not really a huge sweets person so I decided to make a savory Potato, Bacon & Gruyere Pie with Shallots, Creme Fraiche & Fresh Herbs, which is really more like a tart or quiche, just to switch it up and bring something different to the party.
Plus we got some great swag bags full of goodies from our generous sponsors to take home with us to enjoy all the leftover pie for the next week.
Pie pans from Anolon, gorgeous knives from Wusthof, measuring spoons and a strawberry huller from OXO, a take home container by Snapware, a gorgeous Aussie Beef Pie from Dub Pies, mini Jarlsberg cheese and lots of beautiful creamy butter from Kerrygold USA.
All hail to the pie makers!
Now back to my pie. This is one of my favorite recipes ever. It has a delicious buttery crust with a savory filling of thinly sliced potatoes, crispy bacon, Gruyere cheese, sage, shallots and garlic, with a touch of cream and crème fraiche inside to make it extra creamy and give a nice sauce to envelop all those delicious potatoes. It’s then baked into a golden brown and topped with a dollop of crème fraiche, chopped Italian parsley, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper for a finishing touch. It’s kind of like a big cheesy potato casserole you’d make for Thanksgiving dinner except it’s a pie. And who doesn’t love a good homemade fresh pie right out of the oven? I advise making two, though, (just double the pie filling recipe below) because this one will get snatched up quicker than you can grab your fork and say “pie”.
The pie has a delicious buttery crust with a handmade dough and a hearty filling of thinly sliced potatoes, crispy bacon, Gruyere cheese, sage, shallots and garlic, with a touch of cream and crème fraiche inside to make it extra creamy and give a nice sauce to envelop all those delicious potatoes. It’s then baked into a golden brown and topped with a dollop of crème fraiche, chopped Italian parsley, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper for a finishing touch.
Pie Crust (For two 9-inch crusts):
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter; cut into ½ inch cubes
6 tablespoons ice water
Potato Pie Filling (For one 9-inch Pie):
6 slices of bacon or pancetta
4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/16”
2 shallots, peeled and minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced
¼ cup half and half
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons crème fraiche (for garnish)
1-2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)
For the dough, mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse to mix until a coarse meal forms. Gradually add the ice water in until moist clumps form in the dough. Gather the dough and form into a ball. Divide in half and flatten into disks. Wrap each dough disk in plastic and chill it for at least one to two hours before rolling it out.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Gently roll out the pie dough on a floured surface and place into a lightly greased nine-inch round pie dish. Trim and flute the edges, set aside.
Cook the bacon slices in a large sauté pan over medium heat until crispy and browned. Drain on paper towels, crumble into small pieces and set aside.
For the potato pie filling, peel and slice the potatoes thinly (about 1/16” rounds) with a mandolin or knife; chop shallots, garlic and sage leaves. Whisk two tablespoons of crème fraiche into the half and half in a small bowl.
Toss the sliced potatoes with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Layer 1/3 of the potatoes in the dish in a circular overlapping pattern, then sprinkle with 1/3 of the shallots, garlic, sage, Gruyere cheese, half and half/crème fraiche mixture, and crumbled bacon. Repeat 2-3 more layers until all of the potato mixture and fillings are inside the pie shell. Top the pie with a little extra shredded Gruyere cheese and olive oil.
Bake the pie for about 45 minutes until crust is golden brown and the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.
Cool the pie on a baking rack for about 5 minutes and then top with a dollop or two of more crème fraiche, chopped parsley, sea salt and pepper for garnish.
You can also substitute pancetta or ham for the bacon, and mix in some Swiss or Emmenthaler cheese to the Gruyere if you want to make it extra cheesy and melty. Play around with the herbs too – throw in a little rosemary or thyme if you like. This recipe makes two 9-inch piecrusts, so if you want to make two pies, just double the pie filling recipe.
It wouldn’t be the holidays without catching up with friends and family and coming together for a fun holiday brunch with friends that I only get to see a couple times a year. There’s nothing better than gathering in the kitchen and around the table to eat, drink, and laugh together over some great food and drinks.
We decided to all bring a dish for our brunch (I love potlucks!) – I made a Caramelized Onion, Ham and Gouda Tart, my Sister brought a Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Vinaigrette. We also had homemade Chicken Empanadillas from my friend Julie, a Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Casserole by Donna (our gracious host!) and Rachel’s Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread was to die for! Teresa brought some gorgeous Christmas cookies and Peppermint Bark for dessert. Here’s a roundup of our recipes for the perfect holiday brunch..enjoy!
This savory tart recipe is perfect for the holidays and easy to make. You can either make it in a 9-inch tart pan or in a pie dish. It has tons of chunky ham, lots of gooey melty cheese, and caramelized onions, covered in a creamy egg custard with herbs baked in a crunchy, flaky pie dough. You could also substitute crispy bacon or prosciutto for the ham, and use any melty cheese you like. The caramelized onions and garlic give it a tangy sweet flavor that goes perfect with the cheesy creamy custard.
1 refrigerated pie shell dough (fresh or store-bought)
3/4 cup Gouda cheese, sliced or shredded (can also substitute Gouda, Cheddar or another soft cheese that melts well)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Roll out pie dough into a 9" pie dish, overlapping dough 1 inch over edge of pie dish. Flute edges.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add olive oil and butter and onions.
Saute onions for about 5 minutes until soft, add maple syrup and stir.
Saute onions for another 5-10 minutes until they become caramelized and golden brown, add garlic and cook another minute or so. Remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together sour cream, egg, egg yolk, light cream, fresh thyme, parsley and salt and pepper to make the custard filling.
Scatter the caramelized onions into the pie shell, and top with diced ham and cheese.
Pour custard over the top evenly into the shell. Bake tart for 10 minutes.
Take tart out of the oven and cover the crust edges with strips of foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until bubbly and golden brown..
Let tart cool on a wire baking rack, cut into wedges and serve.
Note: if using homemade dough, pre-bake tart shell covered in foil with dried beans or pie weights at 400 degrees F for 15-17 minutes, then and add meat and veggies and custard filling and bake for additional 20 minutes or so until the tart is set.
Recipe inspired by Andrew Zimmern's Bacon-Onion Tart, Food & Wine Magazine
This is one of my favorite Winter salads made with a gorgeous combination of flavors and textures. It has fresh sliced pears, toasted pecans, crumbly bleu cheese and red onions, bathed in a slightly sweet honey vinaigrette.
3/4 cup pecans, toasted
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1/2 head romaine lettuce or 1/2 bag mixed greens, chopped
1/2 large red onion, sliced thin
3/4 cup crumbly bleu cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1-2 pears, cored and sliced
3 tbsp veg oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey, heated
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes until lightly browned.
Chop lettuces and slice onion, add to large salad bowl with cranberries.
Core and cut pears into thin slices. Toss some into salad, save some for topping.
Heat honey and make dressing; toss with salad ingredients, top with crumbly bleu cheese and sliced pears.
Combine vinegar, warmed honey, salt and pepper in a blender or whisk together well in a mixing bowl.
Slowly stream in olive oil whisking vigorously until all oil is blended into a gorgeous vinaigrette dressing.
This is a classic recipe for Chicken Empanadillas (or empanadas). It has a flaky buttery dough surrounding a savory mixture of shredded cooked chicken, onions and spices, then lightly fried to crispy golden brown perfection. Serve with fresh tomato salsa for some extra heat and Latin flavor.
1 tbsp. Evoo
½ lb. cooked chicken breast & thigh
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
¼ cup Tomato Sauce
6 Spanish Olives Stuffed with Minced Pimientos, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. Sofrito
1 packet Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
1 tsp. Minced Garlic or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. Dried Oregano Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shredded chicken and cook until browned, breaking up meat with a spoon, about 10 minutes.
Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more.
Stir in tomato sauce, olives, Sofrito, Sazón, garlic, oregano and black pepper. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll out discos until ½” larger in diameter. Spoon about 1 tbsp. meat mixture into middle, fold in half to form a half moon; moisten edges with water and pinch to seal closed, or seal with a fork.
Fill a deep saucepan with oil to a depth of 2½”. Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking (350°F on deep-fry thermometer).
Cook Empanadas in batches until crisp and golden brown, flipping once, 4 – 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a side of salsa.
Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
This is a healthy and delicious gluten-free egg casserole made with spinach, sautéed mushrooms, onions and cheese baked into a fluffy savory dish that will feed a crowd and leave room for the heavier fare at the brunch table.
1 large bag (10 oz. each) spinach
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 oz)
1 1/2 packages (8 oz. each) sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup Gluten-Free Bisquick® mix
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.
Sprinkle spinach, 1 cup of the cheese, the mushrooms and onion in pie plate.(I personally recommend sautéing the onions and mushrooms for a few minutes first to soften them before adding to the casserole.)
In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients with wire whisk or fork until blended. Pour into pie plate.
Bake 35 to 38 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
This recipe for Monkey Bread is sure to be a huge hit at your next brunch gathering with friends. It's super easy to make, using Pillsbury biscuits and is topped with brown sugar, butter, walnuts and cinnamon baked into a caramelized construction of sweet buttery goodness. It won't last longer than 5 minutes - promise!
As I reflect on 2013, this has been a year filled with challenges and opportunities, adventures and growth both personally and professionally. Good times and bad times, which I’m thankful for and have made me stronger. Wishing all of you a Happy New Year 2014 and health, happiness and good eating! Cheers! xx
I recently did a fun food styling TV segment for Mario Lopez and Avocados from Mexico on the Bethenny show and NBC New York Live. The segment featured Mario discussing his new cookbook Extra Lean, demonstrating how to use fresh avocados in your everyday cooking for delicious healthy meals. I made his Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salsa for the show – it turned out absolutely delicious and was a hit backstage! I also made some gorgeous Avocado, Mozzarella and Tomato SaladBites for the Bethenny Show that were super cute and delicious. Here’s the recipes and some fun behind the scenes photos from the show!
Chicken Enchiladas with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa
6 corn tortillas
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
6 oz cooked chicken breast, shredded
2 tbsp canned green chiles
1/2 cup mild tomato salsa, divided
1/2 cup low fat shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack recommended)
Hot sauce (optional)
Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and place in the oven to warm.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat; add onions and peppers. Season with salt and oregano and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add chicken, green chiles, 1/2 cup salsa, and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.
Remove tortillas from the oven and spray a 9 x 9 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
Place 1/4 cup of chicken mixture in a tortilla, roll up and transfer to baking dish; repeat with remaining tortillas.
Top tortillas with Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa and cheese and bake for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
Garnish with chopped scallions, additional Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa and serve with hot sauce, if desired.
Black Bean, Avocado and Corn Salsa
Serves 4 – 8
1/4 cup vinaigrette salad dressing
1/4 cup sliced scallions
2 tbsps chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp grated lime peel
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1 fully ripened avocado from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
In large bowl, whisk together salad dressing, scallions, cilantro and lime peel. Stir in beans, corn and red pepper. Add avocado; toss gently. Season with salt, if desired.
photo: Kristen Hess
Avocado, Mozzarella and Tomato Salad
Serves: 4 – 6
2 Hass Avocados from Mexico, sliced
2 ripe tomatoes
1 pound mozzarella
1 1/2 ounce bunch of fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
With a small knife or “shark”, cut the little stem end out of the tomato using a serrated knife, cut the tomatoes into 1/3 inch slices.
Slice the mozzarella 1/4 inch thick.
Alternate slices of Avocado, tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves like playing cards on individual plates.
It’s that time of year again to start planning menus and recipes for the holidays. But instead of just serving traditional turkey or ham, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, why not mix it up a little bit and serve your holiday meal with an international flair? I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and interview several Top Chefs and restaurants in NYC to get some creative ideas for non-traditional holiday menus for the holidays. Whether it have a Spanish, French, Asian, Jewish or Italian twist; here are some great international menu ideas and recipes for a fabulous holiday meal with family and friends that break the norm.
Spanish Holiday Menu – Alex Raij, Executive Chef at Txikito NYC
Executive Chef Alex Raij from the Spanish restaurant Txikito in NYC always makes a classic, festive dish for the holidays. This Canelones de Bakalao Recipe (Salted Cod Fish Canneloni with Crème Fraiche) feeds a crowd and references Basque, Catalan and Argentine family holiday traditions that Chef Raij grew up with in Spain. Serve with other traditional Spanish hot and cold tapas such as: Pikillos: roasted Navarran sweet peppers with ajoarriero; Kroketas: crispy creamy croquettes; Boquerón: marinated white anchovy with eggplant and piquillo; Cogollos: butter lettuce, Basque anchovy, and Bonito del Norte and Tutera: gratin of artichoke, Roncal, Jamón.
Photo Credit: Kristen Hess
Canelones de Bakalao Recipe (Salted Cod Fish Canneloni with Crème Fraiche)
Executive Chef Alex Raij, Txikito
1 9×9 inch baking dish, preferably earthenware
12 – 4 inch square pieces fresh pasta sheets boiled and shocked in ice water (The Chef recommends cooking longer sheets and then cutting them after they are cooled in ice bath so they are more uniform)
Filling and topping
2.5 pounds cod
2 tablespoons Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 cups olive oil
1.5 cup tomato pulp pref. pomi brand
2 cups Creme fraiche
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
50 grams hackleback or other high quality caviar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Salt the cod with the 2 T. kosher salt and let stand 10 minutes.
Rinse and pat dry.
Place the cod in a small pot and cover with olive oil.
Place on medium low heat and poach the cod in the oil until it flakes when prodded
Remove the fish to a mixing bowl to cool.
Pour 1/2 cup of the poaching oil over the cooling cod to cool with it.
Heat remaining oil add the tomato fry the tomato until cooked and a little sweet, season with salt.
Pour the tomato oil mix I the bottom of the baking dish.
Break up the cooled cod and flake it with clean hands.
Whip it up with the oil with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Place 6 pasta sheets side by side and place 1/12 of the filling at the end of each sheet.
Roll away from you and place on the tomato.
Repeat with the rest of the filling and next 6 sheets.
Season the crème fraiche with salt and pour over the caneloni.
Bake at 375 until bubbly.
Sprinkle with chives and top with caviar just before serving.
Serve 2 pieces per person.
Printed with permission of Alex Raij. All rights reserved.
French Holiday Menu – Olivier Quignon, Executive Chef at Bar Boulud
Even as Chef Olivier Quignon of Bar Boulud prepares to celebrate his seventh Christmas in NYC, he hasn’t lost touch with the French holiday traditions of his hometown, the Northern French town of Beauvais. Christmas in the Quignon household, and in the restaurant he helms on behalf of renowned French Chef Daniel Boulud, Bar Boulud, is traditional to a tee, lasting up to six hours and spanning just as many courses. What does a typical French holiday meal entail?
Oysters “Always oysters. We shuck them at lunch and the eating begins.”
Cured or Smoked Fish
Foie Gras “This can be hot, seared, or served as a terrine.”
Hot Fish or Pasta
Beef or Game
Cheese “ALWAYS cheese. French people eat cheese at practically every meal. We may sometimes skip dessert, but we never skip cheese.”
Pastry “At Christmas this is often a Bûche de Noel. But my wife is a pastry chef, so there are usually many desserts.”
Photo Credit: Kristen Hess
Traditionally, Tournedos Rossini is a French steak dish, purportedly created for the composer Gioachino Rossini by French master chef Marie-Antoine Carême. The dish comprises a tournedos (beef tenderloin) pan-fried in butter, served on a crouton, and topped with a hot slice of fresh whole foie gras briefly pan-fried at the last minute. A few slices of black truffle and Madeira demi-glace sauce garnish the dish.
At Bar Boulud New York, ‘Rossini’ is a dish that makes an appearance on the menu every holiday season, and on the tables at many French holiday meals. It is rich in ingredients and flavors, hearty, and the perfect celebration dish. There are several way to prepare Rossini, but Bar Boulud sticks to the traditional preparation—seared beef tenderloin atop a brioche toast, topped with seared foie gras and Madeira-beef jus, served with Pommes Macaire dotted with a celery root puree.
Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras and Pommes Macaire
Executive Chef Olivier Quignon, Bar Boulud
Kosher salt, as needed
4 yellow gold potatoes
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Black truffle butter or oil
2 egg yolks
Canola oil for frying
½ cup flour
Celery Root Puree
1 small (about 3/4 pound) celery root, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
Freshly ground white pepper
1 ½ lbs angus beef tenderloin, tied with butchers twine
12 ounces fresh grade A foie gras
6 tablespoons beef jus or demi glace
2 ounces Madeira
1 Tablespoon chopped shallot
4 ¼ thin slices of brioche, cut into 3 ½-inch circles, toasted
8 small light green celery leaves
1 small black winter truffle
For the Pomme Macaire
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make a bed of salt on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and place potatoes on top. Bake potatoes for 45 minutes, or until tender.
Remove from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash the potato with a fork, season to taste with salt, pepper, and truffle butter (or oil). Stir in the egg yolk to combine. Press mixture into a bread loaf pan and chill overnight.
Turn the potatoes onto a cutting board and cut into (at least 8) 3 x ½-inch batons. Lightly coat the batons in the flour and shake off excess.
Fill 1/3 of a saucepan with canola oil and heat to 350°F. When ready to serve, fry the potatoes in batches until golden brown. Strain onto a paper towel-lined tray, sprinkle with salt.
For the Celery Root Puree
Cut the celery root into medium dice. Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook until browned. Add the celery root, milk, and water to cover; bring to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the celery root to a blender and puree with enough of the cooking liquid to make a smooth puree. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl.
When ready to serve, transfer to a small saucepan and stir over medium heat to heat through.
Slice the tenderloin into four portions and season on all sides with salt and pepper.
Cut the foie gras into four slices and season on all sides with salt and pepper.
Place a large sauté pan over high heat. Once very hot, sear the foie gras on both sides to brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter, cover with foil and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium and return the pan with the foie gras fat to the heat. Sear the beef on all sides, about 3-4 minutes each, basting the meat constantly with the fat. Brown the beef on all sides while basting the constantly with the fat in the pan, about 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 120°F for medium rare. Transfer the beef to the platter with the foie gras, cover, and rest in a warm place.
Add the shallots to the same pan over medium low heat, and cook, stirring until translucent. Add the Madeira and simmer to reduce by 2/3. Stir in the beef jus and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
For each serving, place a brioche toast on a plate and top with a portion of beef. Top the beef with a piece of roasted foie gras, and shavings of black truffle. Place two pommes macaire next to the beef and top each with a spoonful of celery puree. Garnish puree with two celery leaves. Spoon the sauce from the pan around and serve.
Asian Holiday Menu – Hung Huynh, Executive Chef at Catch Restaurant NYC
Whole Roasted Branzino is a favorite recipe of Chef Hung Huynh of Catch NYC for the holidays. It’s simple, delicious and easy to make and great for feeding a crowd. Chef Hung also recommends adding some miso, ginger, soy and lemongrass to the seasonings to amp up the Asian flavors in this beautiful seafood holiday dish. His Asian inspired holiday menu includes:
Roasted Whole Branzino
Sautéed Green beans with EVOO and Soy Sauce
White or Brown Steamed Rice
Photo Credit: Kristen Hess
Roasted Whole Branzino
Executive Chef Hung Huynh
Serves 2-4 people
1.5 to 2 pound Branzino
1 tablespoon of Aged Balsamic
1 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of picked chopped thyme
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one lime
Before cooking, the Branzino must be scaled, gutted and scored.
Combine all the seasoning rub ingredients.
Rub entire fish with seasoning including the cavity, distributing evenly.
Make sure that the entire fish is covered in the rub.
Take a half sheet pan and roast at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Reserve the remaining olive oil in the sheet pan.
Place the fish on a platter and drizzle with the reserved olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
Jewish Holiday Menu – Zach Kutsher, Proprietor, Kutsher’s Tribeca
Zach Kutsher, Chef and Owner of Kutsher’s Tribeca, always serves Latkes for the Hanukkah holiday. These crispy potato latkes are a traditional Jewish dish made of grated potatoes, onion, eggs and matzo meal, shaped into round potato pancakes and fried to a crispy golden brown. The traditional way to serve them is with a spoonful of sour cream, but Zach likes to also add ½ ounce of caviar (salmon roe, paddlefish caviar and wasabi flying fish roe) to the latkes to give them a special holiday touch. Some other fun ideas that Chef Zach does to dress up the latkes are to use some non-traditional savory toppings such as:
Peking Duck with Cucumber, Scallions and Sesame Hoisin
Wild Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and Herbed Ricotta
Gravlax and Dilled Creme Fraiche
Pastrami Reuben (pastrami, sauerkraut, emmentaler and thousand island dressing)
VLT – Veal Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato
To make it a complete Jewish holiday menu, serve the latkes with: Chopped Duck and Chicken Liver, Seasonal Pickles, Golden and Red Beet Salad with Lemon Ricotta, Arugula and Pecans, Turkey or Brisket with Challah Chestnut Stuffing, Cheesy Spaetzle Kugel, Brussels Sprouts and Pumpkin Shlishkas with Amaretto Matzo and Sage Brown Butter and Babka Sticky Buns for dessert.
Grate onion on the fine side of a cheese grater and then line a strainer with some paper towels and let drain in sink as dry as possible.
Mix egg, yolk, matzo meal, salt, lemon juice, and drained onion together, set aside.
Julienne the potatoes (cut into thin small matchsticks) or grate on the large side of cheese grater, and periodically put the potato in the egg mix to prevent browning. Do not wash potato after it is cut.
Mix all together, fry in schmaltz (rendered/clarified chicken or goose fat – or you can substitute canola oil)
Take one handful of mix, twisted in the palm of your hand like you would spaghetti on a fork, till golden brown and crispy, then flip.
Finish in oven if necessary.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Italian Holiday Menu – Gabe Thompson, Executive Chef of Epicurean Group (dell’anima, L’Artusi, L’Apicio, and Anfora)
Photo Credit: Epicurean Group
Chef Thompson, Executive Chef of the Epicurean Group in NYC loves creating special menus for the holidays. It is all about the food, flavors and family. His menu below puts his crave-able Italian twist on some fall favorites to make for a classic holiday menu!
Grilled Pork Chop — roasted vegetable and chestnut panzanella, pork sugo
Warm Cranberry-pumpkin Budino – served with apple cider sauce
Roasted Acorn Squash Salad Recipe
Executive Chef Gabe Thompson, Epicurean Group
2 acorn squash (1 ½ pounds)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
8 sage leaves
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut each squash into 8-9 wedges, each wedge about 1 inch thick. Remove and discard seeds. In a large bowl, toss the squash wedges together with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season generously with salt.
Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of butter. As soon as the butter melts, add half of the squash to the pan, arranging the pieces so that they are cut-side down. Sprinkle half of the sage over the squash. Cook undisturbed until it is golden brown on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Turn each squash piece over and cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown on the other side. Remove squash from the pan and place on a half sheet tray or cookie sheet. Repeat this process with remaining olive oil, butter, squash and sage leaves.
Drizzle maple syrup over the squash segments. Place in the oven and bake until each piece of squash is easily pierced with a fork, about 25-30 minutes. Remove and set aside.