So we are well into the New Year, and it’s definitely time to up my game and start smashing my fitness and healthy cooking and eating goals for this year.
I’ve joined a new gym, hired a Personal Trainer and committing to doing Yoga, Pilates, Barre and weight training plus lots of walking at least 4 times a week from now on. I’m also focusing on lower carb eating for a while – cutting out sugar, processed foods, carb loaded foods. And drinking more water, getting more rest and taking my vitamins. The list goes on! Gosh, getting healthy and in shape is not easy.
I decided to make a lighter version of Lemon Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti that’s normally loaded. I swapped out healthy spaghetti squash roasted with olive oil, sea salt and pepper instead of pasta to lighten up the carbs and calories.
Then I simply shredded it into spaghetti strands with a fork…
and sautéed some sliced fresh garlic and shrimp in olive oil, butter, red chile pepper, fresh parsley and a big splash of fresh lemon juice. YUM!
It’s so light and delicious i don’t even miss the pasta or bread (truly!) This lovely dish is also low in calories and high in protein – two staples to losing weight. Not to mention staying full and energized without the sugar highs and lows from eating all those heavy carbs.
You can also add more veggies to the dish if you like..try sautéing some mushrooms, zucchini, cherry tomatoes or bell peppers and adding them to the mix. I absolutely love the possibilities of this dish! Who needs pasta when you have delicious buttery strands of squash instead? Please add your comments below on how you would make or alter the dish – creativity is good!
Hope you enjoy the recipe and here’s to happy and healthy New Year to all of you. xx
There’s nothing more comforting and heartwarming on a crazy cold day than braised short ribs with roasted veggies and mashed potatoes. Can we say heaven in a bowl?
These short ribs take a while to make but they’re worth the wait (I promise!) – I made them a little bit spicy with dried chile peppers,garlic and onions, fresh rosemary and thyme, and a chipotle infused olive oil (I love 7 Barrels brand!) along with a dash of cocoa powder (the super intense Dutch red kind made by Guittard is my fav). They’re braised in broth, a full bottle of red wine (you’re welcome), and topped with fresh parsley.
Once they’re done cooking they will be falling off the bone – then I made a reduced sauce with a knob of butter at the end to make it super silky and delicious. I served these with roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower (simply roast them in olive oil and sea salt on 375 for about 45 minutes, tossing them every 15 minutes until crispy and delicious), but I recommend serving them with some creamymashed potatoes or egg noodles as well (or even some crusty French bread) to mop up that delicious spicy-savory-chocolate-chile-wine sauce. OMG.
Go ahead, indulge. You can always work it off tomorrow. Besides, a big bowl of comfort food and Netflix is more fun anyways 🙂
A classic Winter comfort food dish, these delicious braised short ribs are made with chile peppers, chocolate, red wine and lots of fresh garlic, onions and herbs. Super savory and tasty, served with roasted veggies, and either mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
2 large dried chile peppers, stemmed and deseeded
1 cup boiling water
5 1/2 pounds center cut short ribs, on the bone
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chipotle olive oil (or regular EVOO if you prefer less spicy)
3 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Dutch red cocoa powder (Guittard)
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
3 small onions, chopped
One bottle red wine (Pinot Noir or Merlot or Cab Sauv)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
A few sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme)
Knob of unsalted butter (1-2 tablespoons)
Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
Roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts, for serving
Mashed potatoes or egg noodles, for serving
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust rack to lower third.
Cover chopped chile peppers with boiling water and let sit, covered for about 20 minutes until soft.
Meanwhile, sprinkle short ribs on both sides generously with kosher salt and pepper and let rest to room temperature about 15 minutes while peppers are soaking.
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook short ribs in batches, searing evenly on both sides until golden brown crust forms (about 7 minutes per side/15 minutes per batch).
Once all short ribs are seared, place on a platter tented with foil and set aside.
In a blender or food processor, add the chiles, water, stock, tomato paste, cocoa, garlic, onions, and a little dash of salt and mix thoroughly together until smooth.
Pour the red wine in the Dutch oven and scrape the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan (deglazing the pan) and turn heat up to high bringing to a boil for 2-3 minutes, then reducing heat to a simmer, letting wine reduce by half (about 20 minutes).
Add the pureed chile-onion mixture, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs to the pot and boil together for a few minutes. Return the short ribs to the pot, cover tightly with a lid and braise in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours until meat is tender and falls off the bone.
Place the ribs back on to a large platter and tent with foil to keep warm while making the sauce.
Put the Dutch oven on the stove and heat over medium-high for another 10 minutes or so until sauce thickens and reduces. Remove from heat and add a knob of butter into the sauce to make it extra silky and smooth.
Add the ribs back into the sauce and coat thoroughly. Serve on plates with sauce on top along side roasted veggies and mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Garnish with fresh parsley and additional salt and pepper to taste.
You can also substitute hard cider or a dark lager beer for the red wine.
As the weather cools down in the late fall season, there’s nothing I love more than cooking a big one-pot comforting dish on a Sunday afternoon. One-pot dishes are so easy to make, and the enticing smells from the oven are enough to wipe out any winter blues that might be coming on. Welcome my Wine-Braised Chicken with Bacon, Veggies and Herbs.
I love making hearty braised dishes with meat and vegetables because they’re easy and so good, especially in my KitchenAid® 6.0Qt Cast Iron Cookware.It’s big enough to make a meal for a crowd, and it’s enameled with cast iron inside which makes it the perfect vessel to cook slow braised dishes, roasts, stews, soups, chilis and any one-pot meals. It even has a grill pan inside the lid! How cool is that?
My Wine-Braised Chicken has tons of goodness inside: chicken thighs, shallots, bacon, cipollini onions, garlic, fresh rosemary and thyme, bacon and carrots. It’s slow-cooked into a big pot of deliciousness with white wine, chicken broth, and then a reduced au jus cream sauce served over the top.
This is such a delicious and easy recipe to make and it’s pure comfort food perfect for a chilly Winter day. The best part is you only have to cook and clean in one pot, which is awesome. (More time to snuggle under the blankets and watch movies by the fireplace!)
I’d love to hear what you would make in your KitchenAid® Cast Iron Cookware by experimenting with my recipe. Would you use a different meat, like beef or pork? What vegetables would you substitute or add? Would you try a different sauce for the recipe?
Share your take on this Wine-Braised Chicken recipe on the KitchenAid Instagram page using #MadeWithKitchenAid for a chance to be featured!
One-pot savory dishes are one of those things I crave when it’s cold outside because it’s cozy and warming and just plain darn tasty and easy to make. I also love roasting veggies in the Winter because they’re no-fuss when I’m busy doing other things and don’t want to stand over a stove all day washing dishes for hours afterwards. (Can you tell I’m ready for a holiday vacation? lol)
This recipe for Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs is a perfect one-pot dish with a buttery, sweet, tangy sauce made with maple syrup, Dijon mustard (Kozlik’s is my favorite!), garlic and some Indian hot red pepper and Tandoori spices (a great blend of coriander, cumin, paprika, garlic, ginger, cardamom and saffron).
It’s baked together into a big pot of savory goodness (in my new purple KitchenAid ceramic baking dish..which I LOVE!), served with some Roasted Curry Cauliflower tossed in olive oil, cumin, curry powder, and garlic salt. Super easy and super delicious. I got my Indian spices at Penzey’s at Grand Central Market in NYC and the DekalbInternational Farmer’s Market in Atlanta GA, but you can find them in almost any gourmet spice store or market or online on Amazon.com.
This is a savory Indian dish made with a buttery, maple-mustard sauce, served with roasted curry cauliflower with a hint of Tandoori spices and cumin.
Buttery Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Indian red pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Tandoori spices
Freshly ground black pepper
1 - 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
Roasted Curry Cauliflower:
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
Non-stick cooking spray
Buttery Maple-Mustard Chicken Thighs:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add butter (cut into pieces), maple syrup, mustard, red pepper, garlic salt, Tandoori spices and black pepper to a ceramic or glass baking dish and melt butter with spices for about 5-7 minutes. Remove dish from oven and whisk ingredients together.
Add chicken thighs to the baking dish, coating both sides of chicken with the buttery spicy sauce and bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
Serve chicken hot, with additional sauce drizzled over, with a side of Roasted Curry Cauliflower (recipe follows).
Roasted Curry Cauliflower:
Combine olive oil, cumin, curry, garlic salt and black pepper in a large mixing bowl.
Wash and cut cauliflower into large florets and toss with olive oil and spice mixture, coating cauliflower evenly.
Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and arrange cauliflower in a single layer.
Roast at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour, until cauliflower is tender and browned. Toss the cauliflower occasionally while roasting to evenly brown.
Serve hot with Maple-Mustard Chicken and some extra sauce on top, if desired.
Maple-Mustard Chicken recipe adapted from Apricot Lane Farms.
So it’s finally beginning to feel like Fall around here in the Big Apple. The temperatures have dropped into the low 50s and it’s been raining like crazy for days. Enough to make you feel a little bit down, but also the crisp air, wet leaves and grey skies kind of make me feel nostalgic and excited for the holidays coming ahead. (November is also my birthday month so celebrations are in order in a couple of weeks!)
Also this dampening weather is a great excuse to make some homey comfort food, curl up under a blanket and read a good book! I absolutely love Italian food and usually get a craving for Rigatoni Bolognese or Lasagna on chilly days like these. I thought I would do something a little different and make some yummy pasta with spicy Italian Pork Sausage, some bright and colorful peppers, a few handfuls of healthy iron-rich spinach, and a homemademarinara sauce with fresh basil, topping the pasta dish off with some fresh ricotta and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and red pepper to give it some extra zing (yes, I do like my food on the spicy side!)
It’s really an easy dish to prepare and after making my own sauce I can definitely tell a difference from store-bought pasta sauce, which this one puts to shame on all fronts! I bought some Campari Italian tomatoes that are sweet and little and absolutely adorable (I got them at Fairway on 2nd Ave but I’m sure you can find them at other grocery stores). And the homemade sauce is soooo good with the spicy sausage, savory sautéed peppers, onions, spinach and garlic! (And hey, a little bit healthier than a fattening super cheesy-baked pasta dish I normally crave!)
The fresh ricotta and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese give it a creamy, tangy contrast to the spicy, savory flavors in the dish. All you need is some crusty bread and a nice medium-bodied Italian wine such as Nero d”Avola (from Sicily and a bit fruity and herby), Barbera (from Veneto with hints of black cherry and licorice) or a Bonarda (from Northern Italy with hints of black fruits, violet and black pepper). If you prefer white wine, go for a Pinot Grigio or even a Riesling which is a little sweeter and a good balance for the hearty, spicy flavors in the pasta.
Rotelle with Sausage, Peppers, Spinach and Ricotta with Fresh Basil Marinara Sauce
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
I absolutely love Italian food and usually get a craving for Rigatoni Bolognese or Lasagna on chilly days like these. I thought I would do something a little different and make some yummy pasta with some spicy Italian sausage, some bright and colorful peppers, some healthy iron-rich spinach and to top it off, make my own fresh marinara sauce with some fresh basil, topping the pasta dish off with some fresh ricotta and grated Parmesan cheese and some red pepper to give it some extra zing (yes, I do like my food on the spicy side!)
Fresh Basil Marinara Sauce
3 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled and seeded
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Sea salt, to taste
4 fresh basil leaves, torn into bits
1 pound Rotelle pasta (or sub Gemelli, Gigli, Fusilli or Festonati)
Sausage, Peppers and Spinach:
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ pound ground pork sausage (spicy or sweet, you choose)
½ onion, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
½ orange pepper, chopped
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
A few fresh basil leaves, torn
Ricotta and Parmesan Cheese:
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1/4 cup grated)
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
A small handful of minced chives, for garnish
Make the Sauce:
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, and shock in ice water. Peel the tomatoes and cut in half, and de-seed. Place the tomatoes and sea salt into the large work bowl of a food processor and pulse on medium speed until tomatoes are finely pureed. Set aside.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes for a few minutes, then add the tomato puree and cook for about 25-30 minutes at a steady simmer (lower heat if it starts boiling), stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and cooked through. Add in the fresh torn basil and remove from heat and set aside.
Note: If making the sauce ahead of time, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Cook the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for about 10-12 minutes until al dente. Drain and return to pot. Add fresh marinara sauce and toss to combine; throw in a little extra grated Parmesan cheese and set aside.
Make the sausage, peppers and spinach:
Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat.
Add onion and bell peppers to the bowl of your food processor and pulse at medium speed until chopped into a small dice.
Heat olive oil in the sauté pan, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté for about 1 minute on medium-low heat until lightly golden. Increase heat to medium high, add sausage and cook until well browned and no longer pink. Drain the cooked sausage mixture on paper towels and place in a large mixing bowl.
Heat additional tablespoon of olive oil and sauté onions and peppers until soft and onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add baby spinach and sauté for another 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted. Place the cooked veggies into the bowl along with cooked sausage mixture, add salt and pepper, fresh basil and stir together. Set aside to cool.
Prepare the ricotta and Parmesan cheese:
Stir together ricotta, salt, pepper and shredded cheese and stir to combine, reserving some of the grated Parmesan for garnish.
Scoop some of the pasta and marinara sauce into bowls. Top with Sausage, Peppers and Spinach mixture and stir to combine. Top the pasta with a few dollops of the Ricotta-Parmesan mixture, minced chives and additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Serve with some crusty Italian bread, a green salad and a medium to full bodied red Italian wine such as Nero d”Avola, Barbera or a Valpolicella blend.
There’s nothing better in the Summer time than fresh seafood. Lobster is one of my favorites and an indulgence, at that. Lobster Rolls and Lobster Salad are great picnic and backyard BBQ dishes to serve a crowd. But once the end of Summer arrives, I start to crave some comfort food and one-pot dishes for the cooler days ahead.
This is a classic recipe for Maine Lobster Pie, something I made in a recent cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education – it’s a luscious pie made with fresh Lobster meat, cream, sherry and butter (um, not diet-friendly!) topped with a buttery, crispy topping made of Ritz crackers, melted butter, Parmesan cheese and paprika. We made a bunch of pies in small ramekins for appetizers, but you could also make one big luscious pie in a medium pie dish and serve it as a main one-pot course with a salad and some rice or pasta on the side.
It’s perfect for entertaining guests during the holidays, or even just for a homey comforting dinner on a crisp Autumn night. Go on – indulge a little. I won’t tell anyone.
Yield: Makes 6 appetizer servings, or 1 whole pie.
Lobster Pie Filling
10 tablespoons butter (1 ¼ sticks), divided
½ cup good quality sherry
Meat from 2 cooked lobsters, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups half and half
4 egg yolks, beaten
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
½ cup crushed Ritz crackers
½ teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons melted butter
Fresh tarragon, chives or parsley, minced, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter, add sherry and boil 1 minute.
Add lobster and remove from heat. In a medium saucepan, melt remaining butter. Add flour and cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles; cook at least 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Drain and reserve the sherry from the lobster meat, then slowly whisk sherry and half-and-half into the mixture until thoroughly blended. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper, adjust to desired to taste.
Spoon 4 tablespoons of the sauce into a small bowl. Add beaten egg yolks, 1 at a time, stirring well after each addition.
Return egg mixture to sauce and mix well. Whisk constantly over low heat about 3 minutes; do not allow to boil, or the eggs will cook and get clumpy. Remove from heat and add lobster. Turn into four individual ramekins or a small, deep pie plate.
Combine topping ingredients, blend well and sprinkle over pies. Bake about 10 minutes to heat through and until the topping gets crunchy and golden brown. Garnish with some fresh tarragon, chives or parsley, if desired.
I love cooking with honey – not only in the Fall or dead of Winter, but all year around. It’s such a nice substitute for regular sugar and gives a warm, homey flavor to almost all types of recipes. I recently picked up a copy of The Fresh Honey Cookbook, by Beekeeper, Caterer, Chef and Spokesperson for The National Honey Board and Café owner Laurey Masterson of Asheville NC. I fell in love with her vibrant recipes using different varieties of honey throughout all 12 months of the year – she offers honey-tasting tips and recipes featuring seasonal ingredients for dishes both savory and sweet.
Each chapter is organized around a specific honey for the month including orange blossom, tupelo, avocado, eucalyptus and blueberry honey and more. In January, she has a recipe for Meyer lemon and Honey-Marinated Chicken Skewers, Pork Tenderloin with Orange Blossom Honey Mustard and Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic. In the Summer, she features delicious fresh recipes for Grilled Garlic Shrimp with a Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce, Vermont-Style Summer Squash Casserole, and Broiled Peaches with Sourwood Honey.
She also goes into detail about her experience as a beekeeper and teaches readers how bees make honey, how it’s harvested, what they can do to help the bee population and what is going on in the hives throughout the year.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes from the book for the chilly months of the Winter season. Enjoy!
roasted delicata squash with tuscan kale
Delicata squash is naturally sweet and pairs so nicely with the kale and the other tastes of Italy and the Mediterranean. This recipe calls for pine nuts, which are quite expensive these days, but the buttery texture and flavor is so delicious that I am reluctant to suggest an alternative. This dish is great as a lunch salad or as a warm side dish. She recommends pairing this with her Deviled Beef Bones recipe made with Eucalyptus Honey (recipe follows).
3 Delicata squash (about 3 pounds total)
Extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bow-tie pasta
2 bunches Italian (Tuscan Lacinato) kale
½ cup pine nuts
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut into 1-inch chunks (there’s no need to remove the edible skin). Arrange on a baking sheet and spray or brush with olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool.
3. Fill a large pot with water, add salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
4. Remove the leaves of the kale from the stems and cut into large pieces. Set up a steaming basket over boiling water, and steam the kale just until bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking and keep them bright green.
5. Toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat until light brown, 3 to 5 minutes. (Stay nearby while you’re toasting. Left unattended, they can easily burn.)
6. Combine the pasta, kale, squash, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Toss, and then add the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Enjoy!
deviled beef bones
Laurie grew up with these wonderful beef bones, which were leftovers from the standing rib beef roast served at her Mother’s Blueberry Hill restaurant. The fat rib bones have a lot of meat and are enough to make a substantial meal out of them. They are served in a barbecue sauce that is a dark, wintry mixture featuring Eucalyptus Honey, which resembles molasses or Louisiana cane syrup. It is then combined with mustard and served as a delicious sauce for the beef bones.
Eucalyptus Honey varies from light amber to very dark brown, depending on where the eucalyptus is growing. It has a stronger taste then the lighter honeys, but is very pleasing to folks who have a more adventurous palate. This dark honey is perfect for the chillier days of Autumn and Winter.
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon eucalyptus honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6-8 whole beef rib bones, cooked
Preheat the oven to 425°F if using cooked ribs, or 450°F if using uncooked ribs.
Combine the dry mustard, salt, Dijon mustard, vinegar, honey, molasses, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Whisk well.
If your ribs are already cooked, place them on a baking sheet, brush with the barbecue sauce, and cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Finish them under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes until crispy.
If your ribs are not cooked, place them in a baking pan, brush with the barbecue sauce, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F. Brush the ribs again with the sauce and return to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove the ribs once more and brush with more sauce. Turn the heat to broil and broil for 5 to 7 minutes, until the ribs are crispy (but not burned!!). Serve warm.
pears with blue cheese, toasted pecans, and chestnut honey vinaigrette
I get excited by the proliferation of pears in the market in the winter. I imagine what it would be like to live in Washington or Oregon. And so, though they are not local to me in December, pears are available and abundant and become the foundation for this delicious salad. Sweet, salty, bitter, and sour: All four tastes are in this salad, which makes it a memorable one for your guests.
This recipe uses a Chestnut Honey, which is one of the stronger honeys prized in Tuscany as a local taste. Italians appreciate many more bitter flavors than we do, and it has a big taste explosion for your palate. The color, flavor and smell of Chestnut Honey varies depending on the source of the Chestnut trees. Descriptors go from light and slightly pungent to extremely strong, breathtaking and lingering.
For the vinaigrette
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey, preferably chestnut honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
¼ cup pecan pieces, toasted
4 ripe but firm pears
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (Maytag)
1. To make the vinaigrette, combine the orange juice, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl and stir with a wire whisk until well mixed. Drizzle the oil into the bowl in a thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. This will take 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. To make the salad, toast the pecans in a small dry saucepan for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, watching carefully and tossing often so they don’t burn.
3. Cut the pears in half from the stem to the blossom end. Remove the core, and cut each half in half again.
4. Arrange the pear quarters on individual salad plates. Sprinkle with the cheese and toasted pecans and, just before serving, drizzle with the vinaigrette.
easy tarte tatin
I love tarte tatin, the inverted apple pastry, but I am not the best baker in the world, as I’m not really patient with careful measuring. Frankly, I am much more comfortable cooking than baking. But this recipe will produce a grand result even if you’re not a serious baker. And if you have any leftovers, they make a great breakfast.
Get the best tart local apples you can find. With that start, you’ll do very well.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup honey, preferably eucalyptus or local honey
3 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
Unbleached all-purpose flour, for the pastry
Ice cream for serving (optional)
1. Following the instructions on the package, thaw the puff pastry. This will take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of pastry. You should be able to unfold it without breaking. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the honey. Stir well to blend thoroughly. Carefully arrange the apple wedges in the bottom of the skillet in a decorative pattern, taking special care on the first layer, as it will end up being the top of the tart. Take care, also, to fill in any holes with other apple pieces. Continue to layer the apples until you have used all the apple slices. Since they will shrink as they cook, you want the uncooked apples to be higher than the edges of the skillet, so add more if needed.
3. Cook over medium heat on the stove until the juices bubble up and change from clear to a rich amber color, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the heat and the consistency of your apples. As they cook, press the apples down with a rubber spatula; once the juices are visible, baste the apples with the juices. Keep an eye on them and don’t allow them to burn. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
4. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
5. Roll out the thawed pastry on a floured surface, until it is a square that can comfortably fit over the skillet. Lay the puff pastry over the cooked fruit, making sure that the pastry completely covers the apples. Tuck the pastry into the sides of the skillet, sealing in the apples.
6. Bake the pastry-covered skillet in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry puffs up and turns a golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
7. Place a serving platter on top of the cooked pastry and, holding tight, flip the skillet over so that the tart comes out of the skillet and ends up on the platter, pastry side down. Remove any of the cooked apples that might have stuck to the skillet and tuck them into the tart as needed.
8. Serve with ice cream, if you like, though it is perfect just as it is.
“Excerpted from The Fresh Honey Cookbook (c) by Laurey Masterton, photography (c) by Johnny Autry, used with permission from Storey Publishing.”
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.
OK, so I know Meatloaf is one of those dishes we’re all a little bored of by now. Not so glamorous or gourmet, and usually a quick go-to dish when we have nothing else in the fridge and want to make an easy dinner with a few ingredients on hand. Well that was the case last weekend, so I thought – how can I jazz this meatloaf up a bit and make it a little healthier to boot?
I have some samples of Kickin’ Ketchup in my pantry that I’ve been meaning to try – it’s a spicy ketchup made out in California with a touch of heat and smooth sweetness. I thought I would experiment making a spicy concoction made with the ketchup and some ancho chile powder and red pepper jelly (try this one or make your own) – perfect for a Meatloaf glaze or dipping sauce for homemade cocktail meatballs. The balance of the smoky chile powder mixed with the spicy heat of the ketchup and sweet heat of the red pepper jelly is a harmonious combination and I’m lovin’ it. For the meatloaf, I used a combination of ground beef, ground pork and ground veal – the holy grail for a savory juicy meatloaf. I added onions and garlic, some minced zucchini, a dollop of Kickin’ Ketchup and a dash of ancho chile powder along with oatmeal substituted for regular breadcrumbs. I made some Wild Mushroom Risotto on the side, but this would be perfect with some roasted carrots, sauteed zucchini or mashed potatoes to accompany. Dig in!
1 1/2 pounds meatloaf mix (ground beef, veal and pork)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Kickin' Ketchup (or use regular ketchup and add some cayenne)
1/4 cup instant or steel-cut oats
ANCHO CHILE-RED PEPPER GLAZE
1/4 cup Kickin' Ketchup
4 tablespoons Red Pepper Jelly
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
HEALTHY HOMESTYLE MEATLOAF
Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add onions and zucchini and cook for about 8 minutes, until tender. Add minced garlic and saute for another minute or two. Remove cooked vegetables from the pan into a small bowl, let cool completely and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a ceramic or glass rectangular baking dish with no-stick cooking oil spray.
Whisk eggs together in a large mixing bowl, add the cooled cooked veggies, meat, spices, ketchup and oats and mix together thoroughly and gently with your hands.
Take the meatloaf mixture and press together into one large or two small loaves into the baking dish.
Make the Ancho Chile-Red Pepper Glaze per instructions below, and brush over entire meatloaf, saving some extra glaze for serving.
Bake for 1 hour up to 1 1/4 hours until a thermometer inserted in center reads 155 degrees F.
Remove baked meatloaf from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
Slice and serve with additional glaze and a side of roasted veggies, mashed potatoes or mushroom risotto.
ANCHO CHILE-RED PEPPER GLAZE
Mix together ketchup, red pepper jelly, garlic salt and ancho chile powder and black pepper. Brush glaze on to meatloaf and save additional glaze for serving.
To make the mushroom stock, wash and trim the stems of the fresh mushrooms. Reserve the stems and slice the mushroom caps for use later in the recipe. (Make sure to dust of the dirt first and don’t soak the mushrooms).
Combine the chicken stock, stems, dried porcini mushrooms in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes over low heat. Strain through a cheesecloth and reserve the liquid for the risotto.
Heat a large sauté pan and add 4 tbsp of butter. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until browned. Deglaze the Madeira and reduce until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Reserve the mushrooms. (Try to let the Madeira glaze sit, don’t stir).
For the risotto, heat a wide pot or rondeau (flat bottom pot with tall sides) over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp butter. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir the mixture together to coat the rice with the shallots and butter.
Add the white wine, lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine has evaporated. Begin adding the mushroom stock, a large ladleful at a time. Continue to add the mushroom stock (slowly and continuously), stirring constantly until the rice is just cooked through and all the stock has been absorbed, about 20 mins. The rice should be slightly al dente but have a creamy consistency and not dry.
Stir in the reserved mushrooms, the remaining tablespoon of butter, chives, and parsley. Top off the risotto with Pecorino Romano and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Chili is one of my go-to recipes when the Autumn leaves start turning colors and the weather starts getting cooler – especially on a crisp weekend night cuddled under some fuzzy blankets with me and my kitty cat watching some movies. Or with a group of friends watching everyone go crazy on college football game day. There’s nothing better than that. And, it’s an easy thing to make and dishes out a big dose of comfort. The best part is once I make a big pot, I can eat it for a few days and then throw the rest in the freezer for later (unless all my crazy friends dig in and there’s nothing left to show for it which actually makes me the happiest!)
I decided I wanted to make a spicier version of the chili I normally make and added a kick to it with some Cajun/Creole seasoning Tony Chacere’s (or you can try Emeril’s Southwest Essence) which adds an extra layer of spicy, savory flavor with green and red bell pepper and celery flavors. I added some red pepper flakes, diced green chilies and a few tablespoons of hot sauce to the mix and used half ground chicken (you can also use ground turkey) / half ground beef and threw in some garlic, onions and black beans to make it a little healthier too. If you want to make it even more authentically Cajun, you could throw in some Andouille sausage or corn or green and red peppers for even more flavor and texture.
It’s perfect on its own, but you can cool the heat a little bit with some sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese on top. If you want it even spicier, just throw in a little extra hot sauce – I love Evil Ooze by Hotline Pepper Products (my friend Kerry Stressel makes it in Texas) and classic Tabasco hot sauce, or you can do a little milder sauce like Frank’s RedHot or Cholula) and top with extra diced chilies or sliced jalapenos. I usually serve my chili with plain crackers or corn chips, but you could also make some yummy cheesy garlic bread to serve with it instead. Cozy up and enjoy! 🙂
1 tablespoon Cajun or Creole seasoning (Tony Chacere's)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 -28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 -15 ounce can tomato sauce or 1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced green chilies, drained (or 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and diced)
1 cup of corn kernels (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream, for garnish
Extra hot sauce, diced chilies or jalapeno (if desired)
Crackers, garlic toast or corn chips, for serving (if desired)
Heat the olive oil in a large pot and saute the chopped onion until soft and translucent, for about 5-6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Add the ground chicken or turkey and beef to the pot and mix with the garlic and onion, stirring with a wooden spoon to brown the meat. Continue to cook until all the meat is brown and no longer pink, for about 8-10 minutes. Drain the fat off the meat into a colander and place meat and onion-garlic mixture back into the pan.
Add the Cajun-Creole seasoning and all the dry chili spices and red pepper flakes, stir and cook for another minute or so.
Pour in the stock, water, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce (or chopped fresh tomatoes) and hot sauce; turn up the heat until chili starts to bubble, and lower heat to a simmer.
Stir in black beans and and diced green chilies, cover and simmer for at least 45 minutes, up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (Note: You can play with the thickness of the chili by adding additional water or stock as it simmers, but be sure to taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking if you do this.)
Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for garnish. Top with some extra diced chilies or jalapenos for extra zing if desired.
You can play with the desired thickness of the chili by adding additional water or stock but be sure to taste and season it to your liking if you do this.)
You can also add some fresh or canned corn to the chili while cooking.
Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream for garnish. You can also top with some extra diced chilies or jalapenos for extra zing if desired.
Fresh cilantro or lime adds great flavors as garnish for a little bit more green.
Enjoy with a big hearty glass of red wine or a beer and some crackers, corn chips or cheesy garlic bread.