Friday, April 30, 2010

Vegetable Risotto

Oh, this was good. Really good. I got the idea for this dish from America's Test Kitchen, for a spring vegetable risotto. I used the recipe as a guideline, as I've made risotto many times, but it have me some new ideas, which was nice. I liked how it suggests putting the vegetables trimmings into water to make a broth. I also liked the addition of garlic with the onions (I used shallots). It called for asparagus and peas. Tyler is possibly allergic to peas, so I didn't use them, but I had asparagus in house. It was a really great last minute meal, if I do say so myself. In addition to the asparagus, there's zucchini and crimini mushrooms as well. Rather than mix the parmesan cheese into the dish, I served it on the side with extra-virgin olive oil. Vincent likes to sprinkle his cheese himself, and though he could use the extra fat, I can't. One the side made the dish only a tiny bit healthier.

The salad is baby arugula with proscuitto and pinenuts with a pear balsamic vinegar & extra-virgin olive oil. Minced shallots. Use minced shallots in your salads. So good.

For Tyler, I put some of the vegetables in a food processor and chopped it up finely, then added it to the risotto.

Shrimp with Quinoa

I made this dish a couple of days ago. You can get these wild caught frozen jumbo shrimps at Trader Joe's. The shrimp were seasoned with salt & smoked paprika, sauteed in a pan with olive oil and the juice of half a lemon at the end. The quinoa has bacon, mushrooms, shallots, and marsala wine, cooked separately, then mixed in when the quinoa was done. Sorry there aren't more details...I'm a little bit in a rush. Kind of a monochromatic dish, huh? But, it was super yummy. Smokey, sweet goodness.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Balsamic-baked onions and potatoes with skewered flank steak

Fried shallots have been on my mind. Today, I made them happen. This is one way to get my kids to eat onions. Aren't they cute? Fired up the old 'Q for the first time this year. Yeeha! Here's David manning the grill...after much needed cleaning and a new set of tools. A little rusty from not grilling since last summer (hence the little flames flaring up). Nonetheless, those were some mighty tasty skewers. Vincent ate more steak than I've seen him eat in the last year.
This is what my plate looked like (sorry for the partially eaten piece of bread). Since the grill was still hot, I grilled up some ciabatta bread - YUM. I also sliced up a tomato that came in our CSA box this week & drizzled extra-virgin olive oil & pear balsamic vinegar on top. It wasn't too bad, considering it's not tomato season.

Here's the recipe for the onions and potatoes (a la Jamie Oliver):

3 1/2 lbs medium-sized waxy potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
7 ounces butter, cubed
a bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
1 whole bulb of garlic, quartered or smashed
5 medium red onions, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 cups cheap balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put the potatoes into a pan of boiling, salted water and cook for around 8 minutes, then drain and return to the pan. Chuff them up a bit by shaking the pan.**Jamie, what does "chuff" mean???

Get a roasting pan, into which you can fit the potatoes in one layer, and heat it on the stove. When hot, pour a glug of olive oil into it and add the butter, rosemary and garlic. Add the potatoes and toss them in all the flavors. Add the onions and all the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes on the burner to reduce the vinegar a little. Place the pan on the top shelf and cook for around 50 minutes, until the potatoes and onions are dark, sticky and crispy - removing the pan to toss the onions and potatoes halfway through.

**Mmm, mmmm, good.

I'm obsessed with Jamie Oliver, by the way.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Roasted Chicken

Oh, lovely purple top turnips (and all turnips for that matter), I'm so glad that I have finally learned to appreciate and enjoy eating them. I like them simply peeled, quartered (depends on the size), tossed in olive oil, salt & pepper, and roasted until tender.

My whole roasted chicken. I got the recipe from Art Smith's, "Return To The Table," and made a few changes. Basically, tons of herbs, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper, all mixed together and rubbed under the skin & inside the cavity of the bird. I put one half of a lemon in the cavity and trussed the whole thing. More seasoning all over & into a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes...

...Unfortunately, even for as small of a chicken as we had, it still took FOREVER to cook. I lost track of how long, but more than 45 minutes for sure. We did have the turnips on there, too, so I'm sure that made a difference. Nonetheless, beautiful, juicy, and delicious was the result.

Flank Steak Dinner

I loaded up this plate with everything we had for dinner last night, except the sauce. There was a delicious madeira wine sauce with this dinner. What you are seeing here is roasted cauliflower, sauteed snow peas with almonds, tater tots, and marinated flank steak with St. Agur blue cheese.For the steak, I marinated it with salt, pepper, fresh thyme leaves, chopped fresh rosemary, chopped garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil, overnight. When it was time to cook, I pulled the steak out of the fridge and set it on the counter to temper a bit while I got the rest of dinner together, about 10-15 minutes. I heated my saute pan, added canola oil to the pan, then seared my meat. I had the oven preheated to 425 for the cauliflower and tater tots, so after I seared the meat on both sides (approx. 3 minutes per side), I popped my pan in the oven to finish cooking for about 5 minutes.

So, what's up with the tots? I have kids! Plus, I love steak frites, and since we didn't have fries in house, I went with what we had...tater tots!

Dinner turned out to be a hit with everyone & it was all eaten up! For dessert, we finished off the caramel apples and whipped cream from yesterday. While Tyler was eating his dessert, he kept saying, "Mmmmm."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Caramalized Apples, Meyer Lemon Crisp and Whipped Cream

A wonderful source for recipes is Williams-Sonoma's catalog. You know, the one that comes in the mail. I have made a few of their recipes and have had success with them. Tonight, I served homemade dessert to the family after dinner. Usually, it's something store bought, or raw fruit, or nothing. I used a recipe that I cut out of the W-S catalog eons ago. The full recipe is for Cinnamon Waffles with Caramelized Apples, but I only made the apples. Take a look!

Top view
Side view of David getting ready to dive in.
Close up side view of my serving.
It was yummy. The meyer lemon crisp was purchased from Trader Joe's. I whipped up that cream myself, with the addition of a bit of powdered sugar and a smidge of vanilla bean extract. Did I already say, "YUM!"?? Okay, so I need to practice making my whipped cream quenelles a bit. It's been a long time since I've attempted one of those, but I was pretty good at it back in the day.
Here's the recipe for my caramelized apples, adapted from W-S:
3 T unsalted butter
5 Cameo apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4" slices
1/2 C unrefined sugar
1 t cornstarch
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t salt
2 t vanilla extract
In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, melt 3 T butter. Add the apples, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Stir together and cook about 18 minutes, turning down the heat as needed. Off heat, stir in the vanilla extract.
I ended up having to add about a 1/4 cup of water, as I felt the caramel was a bit too thick, and I wanted more sauce. That seemed to work well. I allowed it to cool, and then transferred it to a storage container and refrigerated it. I made this yesterday, so when I decided to serve this tonight, I made sure to bring it out of the refrigerator to come to room temp a little. I warmed it up in a small nonstick skillet on medium, but did not allow the sauce to bubble up or the apples to get too hot. We ate less than half the batch tonight, so we'll have dessert again tomorrow night! Vincent asked for more, which "makes my heart super happy," as his friend, Kai-lan would say.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Thank you, David, for these delicious meatballs!Adapted From Simply Recipes

-2 T extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 chopped sweet yellow onion *used 1.5 medium shallots
-3 cloves chopped garlic
-1 cup very finely chopped carrots
-1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms *did not use
*had some celery in house, so used about 1 cup, finely chopped
-2 28-oz cans Italian plum tomatoes (San Marzano brand in possible) *only had one can San Marzano at home, but substituted other can with 12 oz of fresh, chunky salsa
-1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
-1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
-3 T tomato paste concentrate in tube *did not use
-1/4 cup grated parmesan-romano cheese blend *used only Parmesan Reggiano
-salt to taste (~1 t)
-1/4 cup red wine

-1 lb ground beef
-1/2 lb fresh bulk Italian style pork sausage
*used 2 lbs beef, no sausage
-2 T finely chopped basil
-2 T finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
-1/2 cup finely chopped crimini brown mushrooms *did not use
-2 eggs *used 3, due to the extra .5 lb of meat
-3/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs *used 1 cup, due to the extra .5 lb of meat
-1/4 cup grated parmesan-romano cheese blend *used only Parmesan Reggiano
-2 t sea salt *used Kosher
-2 t fresh ground black pepper
-1 T olive oil *used canola...actually, did use some extra virgin olive oil
-red wine

Pasta - 1 1/2 lbs of the dried stuff; recipe calls for spaghetti, David chose campenelli

1. Prepare the sauce. Heat olive oil in 4-5 quart pot on medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add carrots and celery, mix together for 2 minutes. Add canned tomatoes (& salsa), stir together. Add basil and parsley, stir tomatoes with a potato masher until sauce starts to thicken about 5 minutes over medium-high heat. *Did not do the potato masher because I forgot to get it for David. Also, this is when you would add your tomato paste concentrate & stir to blend. Reduce heat and simmer while preparing meat balls, stirring occasionally.

2. Prepare the meatballs. Mis by hand in a large bowl beef, (Italian sausage, if using), basil, parsley, (mushrooms, if using), eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, salt & pepper (*David accidentally added extra virgin olive oil as well) until well mixed. Use small melon baller, or teaspoon to form 1-inch round meat balls. Roll and compress into tight balls.

3. Heat frying pan on high heat. Add olive (or canola). Sear and brown meat balls on all sides. About 2-3 minutes. Depending on pan size you may need to brown two batches of the meatballs. Do not crowd the pan by stacking the meatballs. Cook in a single layer. Do not over-cook. As meatballs and finishing, add a little bit of red wine to de-glaze pan.

4. Add 1/4 cup red wine to the sauce. Then stir in 1/4 cup cheese. Add salt to taste. Add meatballs, gently stir. Simmer sauce and meatballs for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot with 4 quarts of water in it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add 1 T of salt. When the water returns to a boil...**WAIT! No. Follow the directions on your box of pasta. Drain.

To serve, place thin layer of sauce on plate, add pasta, add sauce and meatballs, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

EAT! It's super flavorful, juicy and delicious.

**Some (more) notes about this meal...When David decided to make spaghetti & meatballs, I thought about the basic ingredients needed and what we have on-hand at home. I concluded that we had everything, or at least close to. I was wrong, hence the salsa, the shallots, no mushrooms, etc. A word about the salsa. It worked. Okay, there was a little bit of a cilantro flavor to it, but just barely. I think for a basic meatball dish, mushrooms should be omitted. Not everyone likes mushrooms, including my kids. And, celery imparts a nice added flavor. C'mon, mire poix! We did have a pound of unflavored ground pork in the house, but opted to go all beef. We also think that the olive oil may have given the meatballs the extra juiciness. Not sure.

David thought the whole meal was a tad on the salty side. I thought it was just right. The sauce was a bit chunky & runny. After dinner, I ended up fishing out the meatballs and pureeing all the sauce. We ate this with a bottle of Sagelands table wine.

All-in-all, a super Easter dinner!