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An amazing farro salad… thank you Charlie Bird’s in SOHO

Charlie Bird’s, a restaurant in SOHO (New York City) makes a delicious salad. It was published in the NY Times. We tried it and found the idea of cooking the farro in vinegar to be incredibly good. It added so much depth to the salad experience.  The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of chopped pistachio nuts; but we found that it needed more and increased the amount. This salad is particularly delicious if served while the farro is still warm.

farroplated

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (1/2 cup)
  • Chopped pistachio nuts (3/4 cup)
  • 2 cups arugula leaves
  • 1 cup parsley or basil leaves, torn
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • ¾ cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • cup thinly sliced radish
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for finishing

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, salt, bay leaves and 2 cups water to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes. If all the liquid evaporates before the farro is done, add a little more water. Let farro cool, then discard bay leaves.
  2. In a salad bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add farro, cheese and pistachio nuts and mix well. This salad base will keep for up to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator (bring to room temperature before serving). Just before serving, fold in arugula, herbs, tomatoes, radish and flaky salt to taste.
Farro boiling

Farro boiling

Adapted from NY Times article by Melissa Clark, December 16, 2013

No more dry chicken breasts? Yes… Poach them!

Tender, juicy, and ready for many uses

Tender, juicy, and ready for many uses

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 cups (or more  if needed)
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Optional aromatics:  sliced lemon, carrot/celery, onion, thyme, rosemary, etc.

Bring Chicken Stock to a boil over high heat in a saucepan just large enough to hold 1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves in one layer; add the chicken breasts, making sure they are covered by the stock.

NOTE: I “flavor the stock” in many different ways. In this case, I added whole black peppercorns, slices of lemon, and sprigs of fresh thyme. Also, one could add aromatics such as slices of carrot and celery and an onion cut in half. Lots of ideas.

Simmer (NOT boil) them gently, uncovered, for 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover it, and let it stand for 10 minutes. Remove 1 chicken breast to a plate and cut into the center to make sure the breast is cooked through. If it is, remove the remaining breasts to the plate. If it is not, return it to the saucepan, cover the pan, and simmer it for 2 minutes more, then remove the chicken to a clean plate and set it aside to cool.

Cool and refrigerate the stock for another use. Before using the stock again, just make sure you bring it to a full boil first then it is safe to use.

 

Ratatouille – – putting summer veggies to good use

Ratatouille is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. Ratatouille is popular among the entire Mediterranean coast as an easy summer dish. Ratatouille is eaten in so many different ways. Eat it in a bowl, warm or room-temperature, toss with a favorite pasta, or spread on crackers or crostini!

ratatouille

Vegetables cooked down and ready to serve

 

choppedeggplant

Eggplant diced into uniform size

 

chopped veggies

Great way to use up summer veggies

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups medium diced eggplant, skin on
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup diced green bell peppers
  • 1 cup diced red bell peppers
  • 1 cup diced zucchini squash
  • 1 cup diced yellow squash
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Procedure

Set a large 12-inch saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and lightly caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the eggplant and thyme to the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the green and red peppers, zucchini, and squash and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for a final 5 minutes. Stir well to blend and serve either hot or at room temperature.

Lemon Bars for summer

When lemons are at their best, make these “bars” – – they do not disappoint.

 

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CRUST

  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center of oven. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

  2. To make crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt; process to combine. Add butter to processor and process until mixture is pale yellow and resembles a coarse meal, about 10 seconds. If you don’t have a food processor, whisk together flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and work into flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingers.

  3. Pour crust mixture into prepared baking dish, pressing down with your fingers to create a 1/4-inch-thick layer along the bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides, pressing firmly at the edges to seal. Transfer pan to freezer and freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer to oven and bake, rotating pan once during baking, until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and flour; stir in lemon juice, milk, and salt until well combined.

  5. Remove baking pan from oven. Stir topping and pour into warm crust. Return pan to oven and continue baking until topping is just set but not browned, about 20 minutes.

  6. Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 20 squares. Serve immediately or wrap each bar tightly with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Cherry Garcia Ice-Cream

cherry garcia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup shaved plain chocolate (we prefer Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate candy bars)
  • 1/4 cup fresh Bing cherries, halved and pitted (you may use canned cherries, but be sure to drain the syrup)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
Instructions
1. Place the shaved chocolate flakes and the cherries in separate bowls. Cover and refrigerate.
2. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend.
3. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions.
4. After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done), add the chocolate and the cherries, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.

From Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book, by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, with Nancy J. Stevens.

Colorful Pepper Pizza

Tinkerbell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

1 Pound Store-bought Plain Pizza Dough (Trader Joe’s has a nice one)

1 8-Ounce Can Tomato Sauce

3 Cloves Garlic

3 Ounces Multicolored Tinkerbell Peppers

1 Ear of Corn

1 Ounce Baby Kale (or arugula)

3 Ounces Fontina Cheese

2 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar

¼ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

 

Directions

Remove the dough from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 475°F.

Wash and dry the fresh produce.

Peel and mince the garlic.

Remove and discard the husk and silk of the corn. Cut the corn kernels off the cob; discard the cob.

Cut off and discard any rind from the Fontina cheese; small dice the cheese.

Cut off and discard the stem ends of the peppers; remove and discard any seeds, keeping the peppers intact. Cut the peppers into ¼-inch-thick rings.

Making the Sauce

In a small pot, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot.

Add the garlic; season with salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant.

Add the tomato sauce; season with salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and heated through. Stir in as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

The Dough

Lightly oil a sheet pan.

On a clean, dry work surface, using your hands and a rolling pin (or a wine bottle), gently stretch and roll the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. (If the dough is resistant, let rest for 5 minutes.) Carefully transfer to the prepared sheet pan; rub the dough into the pan to coat the bottom in oil.

Evenly spread the sauce onto the prepared dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges (you may have extra sauce).

Evenly top the sauce with the corn, Fontina cheese and peppers.

Sprinkle with half the Parmesan cheese; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 minutes.

Just before serving, add the kale to the bowl of dressing. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper to taste. Top the baked pizza with the dressed kale

Farro Salad with dried cranberries

Farro is an ancient Italian grain, typically grown in Umbria. Despite its nutritionally beneficial nature, farro is a good base for many dishes (both sweet and savory). I like to make a big bowl of it on a Sunday, and then use it as a base to take it in many different directions throughout the week.

farrocranberry

  • 3 cups farro
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled (or not), cut in half; and cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
  • 2 celery ribs, with leaves if possible, cut in half; and cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
  • ½ large onion, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • ½ lb. kale, center stem removed, chopped (4 packed cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts

To make farro: In a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottom pot, bring well-salted water, to a rolling boil. Add farro, stir and allow to cook until desired consistency is reached. I prefer al dente (to the tooth). Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté diced onion, carrots, and celery (lightly seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper) until onions are translucent and celery/carrots are tender, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.

Add kale, season it with salt/pepper, and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until just wilted, stirring throughout the cooking.

Reduce heat to medium, and stir in garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook 1 minute, being careful to not brown the garlic.

Add farro, and sauté 3 to 5 minutes, or until warmed through.

Remove from heat, and stir in dried cranberries and pine nuts.  Test for flavor and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Italian Vinaigrette.. shhh it’s a secret!

salad

Below is a “secret recipe” from a beloved restaurant source – – I cannot name the source, as I was sworn to secrecy; but I will share it here.

Sometimes I blend it together (whisk) as is with the ingredients; but it is good put into a blender and used a “sauce” over grilled meats and/or vegetables. One friend enjoys it as a dipping sauce for good crusty bread. The photo shows the vinaigrette blended into a sauce.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red wine vinegar, best quality
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 quart extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced, or pasted
  • 4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 2 ounces capers, drained and rinsed

Procedure

In a good-sized bowl, combine vinegar, salt, pepper, and dry mustard; whisking until salt and mustard are completely combined.

Slowly pour olive oil into vinegar, whisking until a nice emulsion forms.

Gently stir in the remaining ingredients.

Store in a well sealed glass container. Bring to room temperature before using and give it a slight re-stir to recombine ingredients.

Note:  This also can be blended into a wholly combined sauce.

 

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Basil Pasta

Fall is in the air (well kinda) and this is a good way to use up what is left of the vine tomatoes. Adding fresh herbs such as basil, fresh oregano, garlic and crushed red pepper keeps the dish bright and with a little “zing.”  Finished off by folding in small pieces of fresh mozzarella and fresh parsley makes this worth it.

basil pasta