Wednesday, December 30, 2009

green olive tapenade

Green Olive Tapenade
Recipe Courtesy of Kiira Leess

1 jar of green olives, drained (although any kind of pitted olive will do)
2 cloves of garlic
2 anchovy fillets
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
fresh black pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients. Blitz until a thick pesto-like consistency is formed. Serve with toasted baguette and (optional although, c'mon) creamy, slightly stinky cheese.

Leftovers of this tapenade make a killer addition to a grilled cheese or panini. In other words, consider the possibilities of this condiment endless.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

holiday feasts (yes, that's plural)

And just like that, the Holiday's have once again come and gone. The only thing left to let us know they were really, truly here is a refrigerator full of leftovers, pants that feel slightly tighter than the day before, and the constant discovery of yet another piece of crumbled wrapping paper. Alas, onward and upward. Concentration now turns to the much over-anticipated New Years Eve plans. To stay or to go?

Roasting Sweet Potatoes

Fried Shallots and Sage

Sweet Potato Ravioli on Standby

Christmas Eve Meal: Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter and Crispy Fried Shallots

Lingonberry Kiir Royale's (Lingonberry Syrup, Prosecco, Lemon Peel)

Potato-Fennel Gratin

Maple-Dijon Pork Tenderloin

Christmas Day Meal: Maple-Dijon Pork Tenderloin, Danish Braised Red Cabbage, Potato-Fennel Gratin, Baby Greens dressed with Parsley-Red Onion Vinaigrette

And after all of that crazy indulgent, creamy, and not one bit regrettable food, I think it's fair to say I am now following a diet that consists of raw fish and fluids. And quite frankly, not complaining.

Friday, December 25, 2009

merry merry

Merry Christmas my darling readers! I woke up well before the sun was out this morning and raced down to the computer to start filling you in on today's menu as I so irresponsibly forgot to post it earlier. But, ahh. Oops!

Smoked Salmon Crostini with Mustard-Dill Sauce
Swedish Meatballs
Assortment of Artisinal Cheeses

Pork Tenderloin Marinated in Maple Syrup and Dijon
Danish Braised Red Cabbage (taken from a near ancient scandinavian cookbook)
Baby Greens with Parsley-Red Onion Vinaigrette*

The meatballs, red cabbage, and vinaigrette were all taken care of yesterday so that leaves the rest to, well, right about now. I'm off to start prepping but will be tweeting the progress so check in every now and then in between throwing wrapping paper balls at your sibling(s), trying on any or all of your Christmas gifts at the same time, and dozing in and out of a nap.

You deserve it.

Merry Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. XO.

My gift to you is this recipe for Parsley-Red Onion Vinaigrette. I cannot take any credit here, it all goes to our close family friend and caterer (Festivities), Bill Kaliff whom my mom worked with years and years ago but has kept this recipe, along with many others of his, in an overstuffed silver folder. This dressing is nothing short of divine. The bright, fresh flavor of the parsley with the subdued pungency of the red onion is straight up special and will perk up any plate. I urge you (once again) to serve your salad right on the dinner plate along with the rest of your Holiday spread because swirling your forkful of a perfect bite into your salad dressing is sure to make you tingle with joy.

Bill's Parsley-Red Onion Vinaigrette
*This makes a TON so you might want to halve it. Me? Whole batch, baby.

1 medium red onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
salt + pepper
3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch parsley

In a food processor, blitz the red onion and garlic until finely chopped. Add in the parsley and pulse till combined. Add in balsamic, salt, and pepper and blend. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Taste for seasoning. Call Kiira and thank her (but really Bill) for making this the best Christmas ever.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

leftovers translated into 'zza

What to do with a bowl of leftover roasted veggies? Buy some pizza dough, slather 'em up on top, add some thinly sliced truffled chicken sausage (happy holidays) and torn fresh mozzarella cheese. Throw it into a 400F oven for about 10 minutes or so and top with torn arugula.

It's ok. You can say it. I am GOOD.

roasted pepper and fennel salad with warm goat cheese cakes

You know what's upsetting? The fact that I'm a blogger, and consider myself pretty technically savvy, and yet I cannot figure out (after troubleshooting, googling, nagging my sister for help) how to upload the video I made, making the recipe below, FOR, THE, LIFE OF ME. So after much anger, stress, and disappointment, it is with a defeatist attitude I present to you, the following recipe through pictures and words.

But I'll make sure they're really good words at that.

So the people over at Ian's Natural Foods were so kind as to send me a package of their Panko Breadcrumbs*. They contacted me after I posted an ode to the Japanese-style breadcrumbs a month or two back and asked if I'd like to try their line of organic products? Why, yes! I'd love to.

A few days later they arrived at my desk.

Now, I think it's obvious by now, that I'm not a huge "breading" fan. Just don't see the need typically. I'd rather have my chicken and the like sans a breaded crust. But when it comes to warm goat cheese salads, often there's no way around that quintessential crispy coating. And panko, my friends, is the hands down winner.

After the blizzard we had last weekend, I found myself without much of anything useful in my refrigerator. I was stripped of fresh produce and I couldn't bare to order in delivery (again. eek!). The grocery store was much too far of a walk for a snow boot-less me so I made the half block trek to the produce bodega and wine store. Hey, a girl's gotta keep warm.

Red bell pepper, a fennel bulb, red onion, a bunch of arugula, and a mini boucheron of goat cheese. Oh, and a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, and I ran back up my five flights of stairs as quickly as I could.

Approximately five minutes later, once I'd caught my breath, I started slicing up the vegetables and tossed them into a roasting pan with a healthy drizzle of balsamic, olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes. Into a 400F oven they went for about 30 minutes or so.
I then took slices of the goat cheese and formed them into petite cakes, about the size of a...oh, let's say an oreo. I slipped them into an egg white wash and then straight into the panko. Place them on a plate and into the fridge for at least 10 minutes to firm up.

Remove the roasted veggies from the oven and allow them to cool. In the meantime, whip up some balsamic vinaigrette and rinse the arugula off. Once the veggies are cool enough to handle, toss them into the vinaigrette with a handful of golden raisins (Ok, I know this sounds odd. But trust me. The salty, sweet, savory thang that'll be going on in this bowl will make you smile. Promise).

In a small non stick skillet over medium high heat, add about a 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil and start frying the little goat cheese cakes up until they're golden brown on both sides. No longer.

To plate, put a handful of arugula on the plate followed by a generous spoonful of the vinaigrette soaked vegetables and two or three goat cheese cakes, depending on your guest.

Comfy, cozy, and accidentally vegetarian, I have a feeling this warm salad will become a winter go to. Grocery store free.

*Ian's Panko Breadcrumbs were genergously provided by the company. To find out where to buy, please visit their website

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

PILOT: danish style oysters

I'm pinching myself in absolute disbelief that my dream of filming a pilot/cooking demonstration has actually come to fruition. Aimee Herring, famed photographer extraordinaire, recently filmed me making a Daniel Boulud recipe, Danish Oysters Style. And you guys? She's flipping amazing. Her vision and style were exactly what I only could have hoped and dreamed to pull off. I'm so proud and unbelievably honored to have such a talented, caring, and generous person in my life. So to Aimee, a million bajillion thanks. I am in awe of your work.

Since I'm unable to embed the video here, please follow this link to watch.

Oysters Danish Style with Cucumber and Quick-Pickled Shallots
Recipe Courtesy of Daniel Boulud, New York Magazine
*I halved the recipe


1/2 cup distilled vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shallots, cut in 1/8-inch dice
12 oysters (Malpeque, Winter Point, or Glidden Point)
1/2 cup cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch dice
1 tablespoon sliced chives
2 tablespoons chopped dill, plus fronds for garnish
Salt and ground white pepper
1 cup Greek yogurt (I used fat free)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the distilled vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, add the shallots, and set aside for 1 hour.

Scrub the oysters well, and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 2 minutes, and remove immediately. Open the oysters, remove the top shell, and run a knife under the oyster to cut the muscle, taking care not to spill the juice. Set the oysters on a flat tray covered with crumpled aluminum foil to keep the oysters level and hold their juices. Chill until ready to serve.

Strain the shallots, and mix with the cucumber, chives, and 2 tablespoons dill; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mix the yogurt with the remaining dill in a small bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To assemble, top each oyster with a spoonful of the cucumber-shallot relish and finish with 1/2 teaspoon of the yogurt-dill sauce. Garnish with a dill frond.

Serve 3 oysters per guest.

*Special, ridiculous amounts of thanks to:
Neil Hallsworth for Editing and Directing
Robert Donatucci for Wardrobe Styling
The Lobster Place
Manhattan Fruit Exchange
Chelsea Wine Vault

Thursday, December 17, 2009

anne burrell's bolognese

There are two categories of cooks: those that follow recipes and those that do not. My sister, for example, falls into the latter group. No doubt about it. But me? Well, see, I think I fall somewhere in between.

Allow me to explain.

I love reading recipes. Every opportunity I get to flip through a magazine or a cookbook, I'm there. If not for inspiration, for an idea of what to serve at my next dinner party. I also love trying recipes out. The first time around, it's more likely than not to a tee and the second time around, I wing it. Tailoring it to what I've got on hand or what my personal preferences (or my guests) are. So I follow and then make it my own.

But then I came across a recipe that stopped me dead in my tracks: Anne Burrell's Bolognese Sauce. Anne Burrell is the bleach blonde, spiky haired, loud and somewhat awkward New York City chef and host of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. While TV may not be her strong suit, food most certainly is.

I first followed this recipe about a year ago for a Sunday Night Dinner. Early that morning I stopped by Esposito & Sons for my ground meat, swung by the produce market for the veggies, and I got to it. Let it be known that this is not a recipe for those without patience. This is a four+ hour commitment and one that I urge each and everyone of you to try. There's something incredibly therapeutic about sitting in a warm kitchen, every few minutes checking in on the progress of your Bolognese, sipping a glass of wine, catching up on your New York magazines, all in the comfort of your pajama pants. Let alone the obnoxiously gorgeous scents of reduced red wine, browned meat and veggies, thyme, and bay bubbling away.

The finished product is a devastatingly thick yet glistening, jewel-toned masterpiece that will literally knock you out. Never have you ever experienced Bolognese like this before. This, my friends, is the Bolognese to end all Bolognese's.

So why not take this weekend, as I will once again, as an opportunity to try out this recipe. Follow the directions closely. Do not stray away. And prepare to have your mind and mouth blown away. And I mean that in the best way possible.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

holiday cheer

I don't know about you but I've had a hard time feeling Christmas-y this year. And only adding insult to injury is the fact that I don't get to see home (home means Christmas to me) till the night of the 23rd of December. So long story short, that warm, cozy, pine and cardamom scented time of the year that is the Holiday Season, doesn't happen until the eve of Christmas Eve.
Bah Humbug.
So what did I do to add some cheer to my Wednesday? Called home and had the mother send me pictures of the holiday decorations thus far that will perhaps inspire you to go home and spread the festiveness. And it just so happens, that one of them is edible. A perfect Wednesday night bake and craft idea (although I think the gingerbread cookies below were purchased from Ikea). Enjoy! I know I did.

A tip for city dwellers and country bumpkins alike is to go to your local Christmas Tree lot and ask if you can pick up some of the scraps. They might charge you a buck or two in the city (I tried) but the scent alone will be worth it. Take as many branches as you can and stuff them into a galvanized bucket or large vase. If you don't have the room for a tree, this is your next best alternative. Hang some gingerbread hearts, light some votive candles around the base, and voila.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

gift for foodies

I wrote about this way back in May but I was just reminded of it while I was racking my brain for gift ideas for this holiday season. Spiced Orange Wine. A gorgeous and certainly potent combination of white wine, Pernaud, Grand Marnier, cloves, bay, and oranges. An impressive and absolutely delicious gift for a foodie, hostess, or straight up good friend. I think I'll be experimenting with this recipe this weekend and seeking out some interesting bottles and vessels to pour the aromatic liquid gold into.

Monday, December 14, 2009

god jul

If there's one season in particular that I can get most people on board to try Swedish food, it's undoubtedly Christmas. No one can turn down a Swedish Meatball. Or potato pancake, apparently. (Although I'm not entirely sure how authentically Scandinavian they are, no one can deny the Swede's love of the potato. So there. There's that.)

So for this year's Swedish spread, I whipped up the following: Mor Mor's Meatballs with Lingonberries, Potato Pancakes with Apple Sauce and Dilled Sour Cream, and Smoked Salmon with Mustard-Dill Sauce. Obligatory Glogg (spiked mulled wine) was kept warm and served sparingly due to extreme potency.

To me, this is the epitome of comfort food. An undeniably delicious balance of flavors that makes you feel warm, cozy, and festive all at the same time. Plus, everything was done ahead of time, making you look like the most calm, cool, and collected of hosts or hostesses even if that might not even be remotely close to being the case.

The Mustard-Dill Sauce ended up being a huge hit and could not be easier to throw together. I took a combination of honey mustard, dijon, and a coarse grain mustard (totaling about a cup of mustard) and stirred in about 2 Tbsp. of sugar and 2 Tbsp. of dill. And that, my friends, is it. A gorgeous accompaniment that packs a seriously sweet heat to smoked salmon but just as delicious on a sandwich or with a piece of chicken or fish. Give it a try and while you're at it, God Jul!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

sam sifton update

Korean Beef Bulgogi BBQ made by yours truly, photographed by Aimee Herring

Reading through Sam Sifton's latest review of Madangsui, a Korean BBQ joint, I noticed something. After an awfully wet and depressing start to my day, I found myself smiling. From beginning to end. Because thus far? I totally dig Sam Sifton.

There's a certain relevancy in his writing style and restaurant choices. He's approachable, witty, passionate. All qualities that I hope to convey in my writing as well and that Sifton delivers so seemingly effortlessly. He's hip without having to try too hard and the fact that he saw the value in reviewing a Korean BBQ joint that lacks any and all glitz or glamour makes him that much more credible in my book. I mean, it could also be credited to my affinity for Korean BBQ and all its incarnations but ehh, whatever. As always, I'm already looking forward to next week's review. You should be too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

the social table

My good friend Arax of Kiss and Type likes to think that her blog is in many ways, just an extended Christmas List. Now since, I'm not looking to find sushi grade tuna and a new bottle of truffle oil beautifully wrapped and vying for my attention on Christmas morning, I can't say that I can agree with her.

That is, maybe, until now.

All because this little gem was just brought to my attention: Cooking classes at The Social Table. For $65 a person, you and a friend, family member, or loved one can attend a BYOB (which, c'mon, is HUGE) cooking class. There are a huge range of class types ranging from the Basics to Global Cuisine.
Love this concept. The beyond perfect gift for the new foodie in your life.
I mean, I'm just sayin'.

Monday, December 7, 2009

sunday night dinner

My Aunt Kari has a tradition every Sunday which is spaghetti with homemade meat sauce. A no frills, comfort-driven meal that leaves empty plates, happy stomachs, and smiling diners. A tradition that I'm promoting to all.

We all know by now, my love of the Sunday Night Dinner ritual. For me, it's an opportunity to try out a new recipe I've been pining and get together with friends. But last night, after a failed attempt to pick up Christmas decorations at Ikea (damn you, Elizabeth, NJ location), and biting cold weather, the answer was crystal clear: spaghetti with meatballs. Mor-Mor's meatballs.

I whipped up a triple batch (and froze lots) of the meatballs while a can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes simmered away on the stove with slivered garlic, a dash of red pepper flakes, parsley stems (removed before serving) and a whole bunch of torn basil. Guests walked in, spaghetti went into a big pot of boiling water, and everyone's glass was filled with wine. A generous dollop of fresh ricotta cheese to swirl around in the spaghetti is an almost obligatory addition. At least at my table.

Simple, classic, and cozy we were warmed up (perhaps via some/lots of cab) and certainly well fed in no time.

Even the Italian present was praising the meal.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

shrimp with broccoli and orange

I so badly wanted to have a video to accompany this post to prove that no matter what (well, I suppose there are some exceptions) a quick, easy, healthy, and de-freaking-licious meal can be whipped up in no time. But after arriving home, slightly damp from the spitting sky, I got right into the swing of things and started chopping. I also happened to catch a glance of myself in the mirror after said spitting sky incident and figured we'd all be better off with just a few snapshots of the food. But that's neither here nor there.

I was lucky enough to squeeze a Trader Joe's run in while I was home and picked up a few essentials: frozen shrimp, salmon burgers, thai shrimp dumplings, and a bag of avocados. With a wide variety of dinner options, I found myself drafting then re-drafting grocery list after grocery list. Often, too many options lead to chronic indecisiveness. I suffered.

But soon enough, I'd solidified my list for the produce market: orange, ginger, and broccoli. Oh, and a few Honeycrisp apples found their way into my basket as well for dessert.

As soon as I got home, I started to defrost my shrimp under running cold water (not always recommended but works just fine in a pinch) then chopped up some broccoli florets. Lots of broccoli florets. Into a hot pan went about a teaspoon of olive oil (versus take-out which is LOADED with oil), plenty of fresh grated ginger (intoxicating, sexy, gorg), a grated garlic clove, and the shrimp. Broccoli went in seconds after along with a dash of soy and the juice from a whole orange. I added some sweet chili sauce I had on hand but a dash of chili flakes or sriracha would certainly suffice. A splash of water hit the hot pan and I quickly covered it to start to steam the broccoli and finish cooking the shrimp. Less than 5 minutes later, dinner was ready.

I've said it 428 times and I'll say it again: a well stocked freezer (and pantry) makes cooking so much freaking easier. There are always options. And delicious ones at that when all it takes is a quick stop at the produce market (and wine store, of course) on your way home from work. A fresh, home cooked meal can be ready in minutes making you feel extra proud, particularly productive (leftovers for lunch and/or dinner the next day), and certainly nourished. Body, mind, and soul.


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