Moussaka and Memories of Greece

Greek Moussaka

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.

oia greece santorini

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.

Pelekanos

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.

waiter

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.

Fava Bean Dip

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.

table setting

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.

Sunset

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

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.

Oia Santorini
Oia Santorini

Moussaka and Memories of Greece

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Ingredients

  • Zucchini/Eggplant Potato Mixture:
  • 1/2 cup Greek olive oil
  • 3 large zucchini (or eggplants), sliced
  • 3 large potatoes, sliced
  • Meat Sauce:
  • 3 onions, chopped fine
  • 4 cloves or garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground lamb or beef
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup red Greek wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Bechamel Sauce:
  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 quart of whole milk
  • 4 eggs; beaten until frothy
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Zucchini/Eggplant Potato Mixture:
  2. 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.
  3. Meat Sauce:
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Make the Bechamel Sauce:
  7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  8. 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.
  9. Assemble the casserole:
  10. Grease an 11x16-inch baking dish or casserole dish and sprinkle the bottom lightly with?breadcrumbs.
  11. Arrange alternate layers of the zucchini/eggplant and potatoes and meat sauce?in the pan, sprinkling each layer with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
  12. Pour the bechamel sauce over the top and sprinkle some additional Parmesan cheese on top. Bake 1 hour, or until top is golden.
  13. Remove from the oven and cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
  14. Top with additional chopped fresh parsley. Cut into squares and serve.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2015/04/06/moussaka-and-memories-of-greece/

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Pie Party GE Potluck & a Potato, Bacon & Gruyere Pie w/ Shallots, Creme Fraiche & Fresh Herbs

Potato, Bacon & Gruyere Pie1

Potato, Bacon & Gruyere Pie1

I recently got invited to the Annual Pie Party GE Potluck 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.

Kristen Hess The Artful Gourmet

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.

Sweet Pies

The 3 hour party had hundreds of gorgeous sweet and savory pies from food bloggers, writers, and local Chefs in the food industry, and was planned and hosted by Jackie Gordon aka The Diva That Ate New York and Ken Leung aka Hungry Rabbit at the gorgeous GE Monogram Design Center in NYC.

Pie Party GE

We had tons of fun meeting other foodies

Savory Pies

and sampling the goods,

Chef Tagere

watched a cooking demo by  Chef Tagere showing us how to make gorgeous handmade Empanadas,

Sweet Pies 2

and did lots and lots of eating

Bartender

and drinking and mingling with some of the best foodies on the East Coast!

Anolon

Our awesome sponsors of this amazing party were: OXO, Jarlsberg, Kerrygold, Dub Pies, Wusthof, Snapware, Woolwich Dairy and Anolon.

Wusthof

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.

Dub Pies

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.

KerryGold USA

All hail to the pie makers!

Savory Pies 2

Spaghetti Pie

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”.

Potato, Bacon & Gruyere Pie2

Potato, Bacon & Gruyere Pie w/ Shallots, Creme Fraiche & Fresh Herbs

Yield: 4-6

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.

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons crème fraiche (for garnish)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Bake the pie for about 45 minutes until crust is golden brown and the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.
  8. 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.

Notes

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.

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2014/05/13/pie-party-mania-potato-bacon-gruyere-pie/

Photo Gallery from the Event (just click the photos to enlarge and see slideshow)

Sponsors

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A Big Bowl of Comfort :: Irish Stout Beef Stew

BeefStew-hero

IrishBeefStew1

Winter is always a little bit depressing without any sunshine and constant grey skies and snow storms every other day in New York City. But there’s something cozy about it too, when I’m pent up in my apartment with not much to do other than cook, watch a good movie and snuggle under a blanket with my heater on. For my birthday last November my Mom got me a gorgeous Wolfgang Puck cast iron ceramic enamel braising pan which I’ve been dying to make a big pot of delicious comforting something or other in. I’ve had a craving for a warm and homey stew and had some Irish Stout Beef Stew Starter on hand from Williams-Sonoma so it was the perfect excuse to get cooking and cure the winter chills outside.

I rounded up some beef chuck, carrots, potatoes, chopped tomatoes, onions and baby peas and threw it all in the big pot. Adding a dark stout beer and beef broth gives it a hearty savory flavor and the stew starter has a nice balance of spices in it like cumin and curry and paprika for a little extra kick. The bad news is, Williams Sonoma has discontinued the Irish Stout Stew starter, but they do have a lovely Beef Stew Braising Base you can use instead that has dark beer and fire-roasted red peppers, chiles and tomatoes in it that would work just as lovely. After a few hours in the oven it’s just a big pot of yum. Kinda like a big hug. Now that’s worth staying in for.

SauteBeef

Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes, dredge with seasoned pan-searing flour and brown in 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

SauteOnions

Add onions to the pan along with another 2 tablespoons of canola oil and saute for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and saute another minute.

BeerandBroth

Add Worchestershire sauce and beer and cook with onions for a few minutes, stirring and scraping pan to loosen the brown bits. Add the beef broth and cook for another few minutes.

BeefBeerBrothOnions

Return the seared beef to the pot, add the chopped tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and Beef Stew starter and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil.

StewReadyForOven

Cover and throw the pot into a preheated 350 degree oven and let the goods simmer for about an hour. Remove from oven, stir and reduce heat to 300 degrees. At this point, if the stew is not thick enough for your liking, add a slurry of starch or roux thickener mixed with some water (about 1/4 cup) into the stew and stir well throughout. You can also smash a few of the potatoes to thicken it up a little bit. Place pot back in the oven braise for another 30 minutes to an hour. Defrost the baby peas and add into the pot the last 5 minutes or so.

IrishBeefStew4

Let the stew cool on top of the stove uncovered for about 15-20 minutes to let it thicken. Serve with rye bread or Irish Brown Bread and a glass of Guinness or dark beer of your choice.

A Big Bowl of Comfort :: Irish Stout Beef Stew

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 8

Serving Size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup seasoned pan-searing flour (Wegmans or Wondra)
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 pounds boneless chuck beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 ½ large onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (3 or 4 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 bottle Irish stout beer (like Guinness)
  • 1 14-ounce can low-sodium beef broth
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped fine in a food processor
  • 2 cups baby carrots or large carrot chunks
  • 6 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered into chunks
  • 1 package frozen baby peas
  • ¼ cup starch or roux thickener and water slurry (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • Rye or Brown Bread for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron enamel braising pan or Dutch oven.
  2. Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes, dredge with seasoned pan-searing flour and brown in 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add sliced onions to the pan along with another 2 tablespoons of canola oil and saute for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and saute another minute.
  4. Add Worchestershire sauce and beer and cook with onions for a few minutes, stirring and scraping pan to loosen the brown bits. Add the beef broth and cook for another few minutes.
  5. Return the seared beef to the pot, add the chopped tomatoes, baby carrots, potatoes and Beef Stew starter and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil.
  6. Cover and place the pot into the oven and let the goods simmer for about an hour. Remove from oven, stir and reduce heat to 300 degrees. At this point, if the stew is not thick enough for your liking, add a slurry of starch or roux thickener mixed with some water (about 1/4 cup) into the stew and stir well throughout. You can also smash a few of the potatoes to thicken it up a little bit. Place pot back in the oven braise for another 30 minutes to an hour. Defrost the baby peas and add into the pot the last 5 minutes or so.
  7. Let the stew cool on top of the stove uncovered for about 15-20 minutes to let it thicken. Serve with rye bread or Irish Brown Bread and a glass of Guinness or dark beer of your choice.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2014/01/21/irish-stout-beef-stew/

IrishBeefStew2

Cozy Up.

Other Beef Stew recipes you might enjoy:

Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika – Pioneer Woman

Martha Stewart’s Beef Stew

Old-Time Beef Stew – Paula Deen

Mix it Up! Non-Traditional Holiday Menu Ideas & Recipes from NYC Top Chefs

InternationalMenu-hero

International Holiday Menus

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.

Canelones de Bakalao
Canelones de Bakalao

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

Canelones de Bakalao Recipe (Salted Cod Fish Canneloni with Crème Fraiche)

Executive Chef Alex Raij, Txikito

Serves 6

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

Poultry

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.”

Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras
Tournedos Rossini with Truffles and Foie Gras

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

Serves 4

Pommes Macaire

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
Salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
Freshly ground white pepper

To Finish

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.

To Finish

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

Miso Soup

Fresh fruit

Roasted Whole Branzino
Roasted Whole Branzino

Photo Credit: Kristen Hess

Roasted Whole Branzino

Executive Chef Hung Huynh

Serves 2-4 people

Ingredients:

1.5 to 2 pound Branzino
1 tablespoon of Aged Balsamic

Seasoning Rub:

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

Directions:

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.

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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.

Crispy Potato Latkes
Crispy Potato Latkes

Photo Credit: Kutsher’s Tribeca

Potato Latkes Recipe

Zach Kutsher, Kutsher’s Tribeca

Ingredients:

1 pound potatoes
1 egg
1 egg yolk
6 ounces onion
3/4 ounces matzo meal
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preparation:

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)

Grilled Pork Chop
Grilled Pork Chop

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!

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad– radicchio, agrodolce raisins, pecans, fiore sardo (aged Sheeps milk cheese)

Orecchiette — turkey sausage, sage, sweet potato

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

Serves 4-6

2 acorn squash (1 ½ pounds)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
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.

—–

 

Potato Latkes with Sauteed Caramelized Apples with Honey and Cinnamon Sour Cream

Potato Latkes with Caramelized Honey Apples & Cinnamon Sour Cream
Potato Latkes with Caramelized Honey Apples & Cinnamon Sour Cream

In the spirit of the Jewish New Year holiday Rosh Hashana, I created a delicious dish for my client miditto, to pair with some of their late Summer and early Fall wine selections for our September photo shoot. Apples and honey are often eaten together to celebrate the New Year, and are typical symbols of hope for sweet and healthy new beginnings.  What better way to serve them than with classic Potato Latkes? I used a traditional latke recipe with shredded onions and potatoes mixed with flour and egg and seasonings, then fried in oil into crispy potato cakes. Rather than serving them with traditional applesauce, I thought it would be a tasty variation to caramelize the apples in butter and brown sugar and top the latkes with the apples and a drizzle of honey and cinnamon sour cream. Delicious, heartwarming, and definitely something to celebrate! Shanah Tova. Happy New Year! 

Potato Latkes with Cinnamon Sour Cream

3 1/2 cups shredded peeled baking potato (about 1 ½ pounds)
1 1/4 cups grated onion
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon onion sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
Sour cream (for serving)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine potato and onion in a colander. Drain 30 minutes, pressing with the back of a spoon until barely moist. Combine potato mixture, flour, and next 4 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl; toss well.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Spoon 1/4 cup potato mixture loosely into a dry measuring cup. Pour mixture into pan, and flatten slightly. Repeat to form 6 latkes. Cook in batches by sautéing them 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove latkes from pan, and keep warm in an oven on low heat.

Repeat procedure with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and potato mixture to yield 12 latkes total. Combine sour cream and cinnamon in a bowl. Serve with Sauteed Caramelized Apples over the latkes. (recipe follows)

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe adapted from myrecipes.com

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Sauteed Caramelized Apples with Honey

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large red or green apples
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons honey

Preparation

Peel and core apples and cut into thin wedges.

Melt butter over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet.

Add apples, brown sugar and cinnamon to pan and sauté apples about 10 minutes until lightly caramelized.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme or parsley leaves and let cool. Serve over latkes with a drizzle of honey and a side of sour cream mixed with cinnamon and additional parsley or chives.

Serves 4-6.

Pair the Latkes and Caramelized Apples with a full-bodied Pinot Noir or smooth Cabernet Sauvignon. See Miditto.com for more great organic and vegan wine recommendations and selections!

 

 

On The Menu: Roasted Chicken w/ Pinot Noir Sauce and Garlic-Smashed Potatoes

chicken pinot noir

 

chicken pinot noir

Whenever I have a day off, I normally feel the urge to sleep the entire day and forget the world. After thoroughly cleaning my apartment, getting my laundry together and paying bills all afternoon, I worked up a healthy appetite for a really nice dinner.

However, after exhausting all my energy on mundane activities all day, I wanted to make something simple but delicious, and a dish that I could make with all of the ingredients I had on hand: chicken, wine, garlic and potatoes. The thought of actually having to leave my apartment to go to the grocery store and expending more of my precious energy walking up four flights of stairs bewildered me.

I found a recipe for Roasted Chicken Breast with Pinot Noir sauce and Garlic Smashed Potatoes and decided to give it try because it sounded interesting (red wine sauce on chicken?) yet elegant. The chicken came out absolutely perfect; crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside – flavored with rosemary and thyme, and sauteed in a light, seasoned searing flour before roasting in the oven giving it a nice browned flavor. The wine sauce is the trickiest part – you want to cook down the wine in the sauce until it turns into a thick glaze and watch it so it doesn’t burn, stirring often.

The potatoes were pretty amazing – buttery, garlicky, crispy on top but creamy underneath the browned crust. The recipe suggests topping the potatoes with sour cream and chives when serving which I omitted, but instead I added a drizzle of Wegman’s basting oil, flavored with garlic, thyme and parsley on top before I put them in the broiler to give them a little extra flavor and crispier crunch.

I highly recommend a glass of red wine to accompany – and a side of crisp sauteed green beans or sugar snap peas for some extra veg. All in all, it turned out to be the perfect meal for a perfectly exhausting day off.

Roasted Chicken Breast with Pinot Noir Sauce

Ingredients

2  teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2  teaspoon salt, divided
1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2  teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
8  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4  cup searing flour
1  tablespoon olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
3  tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2  cups pinot noir
1 1/2  cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3/4  teaspoon sugar
3  tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Sprinkle thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and rosemary evenly over chicken. Dredge chicken in flour; shake off excess flour. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 chicken breast halves to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute. Remove chicken from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining chicken. Arrange chicken in a single layer on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray; place rack in pan. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160°. Remove from oven. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.

3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots to saucepan; sauté 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Stir in wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until wine is reduced to 1 cup. Add broth; cook 16 minutes or until broth mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and sugar. Gradually add butter, stirring constantly with a whisk until smooth. Serve sauce with chicken.

Serves 8.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

garlic smashed potatoes

Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Ingredients

1 3/4 pounds small unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes (about 16), scrubbed
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1-2 tablespoons Wegman’s Herb Basting Oil, for garnish

Preparation

Generously butter glass pie dish. Cook potatoes and garlic in medium pot of boiling salted water until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; let stand 5 minutes. Discard garlic. Arrange potatoes close together in prepared dish. Using wooden spoon, smash potatoes coarsely until they split open. Drizzle with oil; dot with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler. Broil potatoes until crisp and golden, watching closely to avoid burning, 8 to 10 minutes. Top with dollops of sour cream; sprinkle with chives.

Serves 6.

Source: Bon Appetit, Feb 2009

Slow Cooked Goodness on a Chilly Night

Slow Cooked Beef Short Ribs

This is a really easy to make hearty meal for a chilly winter night. All you need are some gorgeous beef short ribs, onions, tomatoes, vinegar and brown sugar and a few other ingredients – throw them all in the slow cooker on low and let this dish stew for about 4-5 hours. Make sure you’re hungry – it’s filling, warm and delicious. Definitely food coma material!

slow cooked short ribs

1/3 c. water

¼ c. tomato paste

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp prepared mustard

2 tsp seasoned salt (Paula Deen’s House Seasoning)

2 tsp cider vinegar

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp beef bouillon granules

1 tsp chopped garlic

1 can Belgian mini baby carrots, drained

2 lbs beef short ribs

1 small tomato, chopped (or 1 small can crushed tomatoes)

1 small onion, chopped

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp cold water

1 small bag Yukon gold baby potatoes

In a 3 qt. slow cooker, combine the first 10 ingredients. Add the ribs, tomato and onion.
Cover and cook on low for 4.5 hours or until meat is tender.

Cook baby Yukon potatoes in boiling water for approximately 5-10 mins. Drain.
Cut in halves and quarters and add to slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch
and cold water until smooth; gradually. Stir into cooking juices. Cover and cook for 10-15
minutes or until thickened.

Serve in big bowls with some crusty French bread and a side salad. Add a glass of bold red
and you’ve got a heartwarming dish to get you through any cold winter night.

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