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Pickled Eggs!? Yes!

I grew up with them and still love them.  Anything pickled can land on my plate anytime.  These are a great snack to have on hand.

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt (use coarse salt!)
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 10 black peppercorns

Directions

  1. Place eggs in a large pot and cover with cold water one-inch above eggs. Bring the water to a boil then immediately remove from the heat. Cover the pot and let the eggs sit for 9 – 10 minutes. While eggs are sitting in the pot, prepare an ice-bath (large bowl with ice and water). Remove eggs from pot and place into the ice-bath to stop the cooking. Once eggs are completely cooled, peel them and place them into a large glass jar (or glass bowl with a lid).
  2. In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, Kosher salt, pickling spice, and all of the onion slices (except for two slices), and the peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a strong, rolling boil. Pour the mixture over the eggs.  Place the reserved two onion slices on top.  Seal the jars(s). Allow the entire egg and brine mixture to come to room temperature. Refrigerate for 3 days before serving.

Note: It is important that the eggs are completely covered by the brine.

Boiling the brine

 

Brine poured over hardboiled eggs

 

Eggs poached within avocado – – easy and delicious

Eggs poached within avocado. Then utilize them in any way you choose!

This recipe is so straight forward and simple to utilize for a quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  I put the finished avocado halves over a dressed salad for an easy healthy lunch.  One could use lime for squeezing and garnish with cilantro then serve over rice and/or beans. Maybe throw in some warm tortillas for sopping up that yolk.  One good thing is that this recipe can be scaled up or down depending upon how many are being served!

Ingredients

1 avocado

2 Large eggs

1 lemon

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Procedure

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 450°F.

Cut each avocado in half and remove the pit. Using a spoon, scrape out the center of each halved avocado so that it is just large enough to accommodate an egg. Squeeze lemon juice over the avocados so they don’t turn brown then season with salt. Place on a baking sheet. Break an egg into the center of each avocado. Some of the white may spill out and that’s just fine. Just as long as the yolk remains intact.

Bake in the oven until whites are set and yolk is runny, about 10 to 12 minutes. Check at the 10 minute mark to make sure the egg yolks will be on the poached side. Add another 2 minutes here and there as needed.  The key is to check. Remove from oven giving each avocado a little black pepper. Then it is up to you to be as creative as you’d like with them.  Have fun!

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan Crust

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

  • Lightly oil the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish.
  • Arrange the fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt (lightly, as the cheese is salty) and pepper, then with the Parmesan.
  • Drizzle with the oil.
  • Bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 30 – 45 minutes. Check at 30 minutes to see the doneness of the fennel.
  • Mince enough fennel fronds to equal 1 tablespoon, then sprinkle over the roasted fennel

Optional:  Lightly squeeze fresh lemon juice, to taste, over the roasted fennel

Serve and enjoy

Late Winter Ragout with Pappardelle

Pappardelle is a wide noodle pasta which is very comforting with richer sauces. Perfect for fall or winter dining.

Note: serves two healthy portions – – 4 smaller portions. Italians prefer to just “coat the pasta” with any sauce as the pasta is the star of the meal. If you want big portions of the ragout, you may want to double the ragout portion of the recipe.

Late Winter Ragout with Pappardelle FINAL

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 4 ounces ground pork
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small can whole peeled tomatoes, 14.5 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 ounces pappardelle
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino cheese

 Procedures

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large high-sided pan over medium heat.
  2. When oil is shimmering, add ground beef and pork, breaking up with back of a spoon. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Remove browned meat from pan onto a plate and set aside.
  3. While meat is browning prepare your vegetables. Rinse celery stalk, pat dry, and cut into ¼-inch dice.
  4. Peel onion and cut into small dice.
  5. Peel carrot and cut into ¼-inch dice.
  6. Slice garlic into thin slivers length-wise.
  7. Drain tomatoes and discard liquid. Add tomatoes into a small bowl and crush by hand.
  8. Add another tablespoon olive oil into the same pan used to brown meat, and bring up to a shimmering temperature over medium-high heat.
  9. Add celery, onion, carrot, and garlic to pan, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook until onion is soft and translucent, about  4-5 minutes.
  10. Return ground beef and pork to pan, along with any accumulated juices from the plate, and stir to combine.
  11. Add tomato paste to pan and cook, stirring into the meat and vegetable mixture until fully combined about 3 minutes, allowing flavors to develop.
  12. Add red wine and cook until reduced by half, about 2 -3 minutes.
  13. Add crushed tomatoes and bay leaf and stir to combine, bringing to a slight boil.
  14. Reduce heat to medium low heat, cover, and cook until sauce has thickened, at least 10 – 30 minutes.
  15. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a few pinches of salt to the water.
  16. You will need to plan and time the cooking of  your pasta: Follow pappardelle package cooking directions. As you get close to the time where the pasta will finish cooking and the ragout is developed, add the pasta to the boiling water and stir so pasta doesn’t stick together. Cook pasta until al dente (to the tooth), about 8 – 9 minutes.
  17. Drain pasta.
  18. Taste the ragout and adjust seasoning (salt & pepper) as necessary.
  19. Discard the bay leaf.
  20. Pour the drained pasta into the pan with the ragout and gently toss together until everything is incorporated.
  21. Divide the pappardelle and ragout mixture into bowls and garnish with grated pecorino cheese, to taste.

Serve and enjoy!

Pappardelle Ragout FINAL

Pappardelle tossed in Ragout and plated

 

 

 

Salted Caramel Ice Cream – – a fall treat

The whipped cream folded into the dulce de leche creates a “cloud result” in the mouth when the ice cream is finished.  The saltiness is just perfectly paired with the sweetness of the caramel.  Everyone who tried this was asking for more!

Cloud-like consistency and beautiful flavor

Cloud-like consistency and beautiful flavor

Notes: If you are making the dulce de leche yourself (highly recommended!) rather than using store-bought, there will be a little attending necessary to the simmering can of condensed milk. When simmering the milk, I recommend keeping another large pot of simmering water going to keep adding to the pot. This will ensure the can is constantly submerged in the simmering water and the end-result will be consistent. In total, because of the simmering of the milk, you can expect total time to be a about 2 1/2 hours, plus 6 hours of freezing time.
Makes about 5 cups

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (or 1 1/3 cups store-bought dulce de leche)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 cups very cold heavy cream

Special equipment:

A 9×5″ loaf pan

PREPARATION

    1. If making dulce de leche, place unopened can of milk in a medium pot filled with water (can should be completely submerged); cover and let simmer 2 hours. Remove can and let cool. Open can and transfer contents to a large bowl. Stir in 1/4 tsp. salt and let cool at least 10 minutes.
    2. If using store-bought dulce de leche, combine with salt in a large bowl.
    3. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Stir about 1/3 of the whipped cream into dulce de leche until just combined. Gently fold remaining whipped cream into dulce de leche mixture, then pour into 9×5″ loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap lightly on top of the mixture to avoid open air space, and freeze until firm, about 6 hours.
    4. Sprinkle with additional salt before serving, if desired.
  1. Do Ahead
    1. Ice cream can be made 7 days ahead; cover and freeze in loaf pan.
Condensed milk lightly simmering away

Condensed milk lightly simmering away

drippingcan

The color of the condensed milk after it becomes “dulce de leche” caramel

 

Cream beaten to "stiff peaks" and beginning to fold it into the caramel

Cream beaten to “stiff peaks” and beginning to fold it into the caramel

icecreamwrapped

Keeping the plastic wrap pressed against the surface while freezing

Adapted from a recipe by Epicurious

Fall Mexican Butternut Squash Empanadas

The flavors of the fresh produce make their way into this slightly spicy, and smoky empanada.  The flaky crust holds the delicious stuffed filling so nicely. Topped with the Mexican crema and crisp/slightly-tart green tomato salsa, this dish is a pleaser.

empanadas

Ingredients

  • 6 Empanada Wrappers (store bought or can sometimes be purchased at Mexican restaurants)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 1 Green Tomato
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • 2 Ounces Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1 Jalapeño Pepper
  • ¼ Cup Mexican Crema
  • 1 Tablespoon Mexican Spice blend (Ancho Chile Powder, Smoked Paprika, Garlic Powder, Ground Cumin & Dried Mexican Oregano. Note: Make your own or use a store bought blend of your choosing
  • 3 Ounces Monterey Jack Cheese
  • ¼ Cup Crema

 

Procedures

  1. Prepare the ingredients: Brown the squash: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Cut off and discard the squash ends. Peel the squash; separate the neck and bulb. Halve the bulb lengthwise; scoop out and discard the pulp and seeds, then small dice the squash. Peel and mince the garlic. Peel and small dice the onion. Grate the cheese. Core and small dice the tomato. Using a peeler, remove the lime rind, avoiding the pith; mince the rind to get 2 teaspoons of zest (or use a zester). Quarter the lime. Roughly chop the cilantro leaves and stems. Cut out and discard the stem, ribs and seeds of the pepper; small dice. Immediately wash your hands and cutting board afterwards.
  2. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the squash and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until lightly browned and slightly softened.
  3. To the pan, add the onion, garlic, spice blend and as much of the pepper as you’d like, depending on how spicy you’d like the dish to be. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes, or until softened. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring occasionally, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the water has cooked off. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl.
  4. Lightly oil a sheet pan. Fill a small bowl with water. Place the empanada wrappers on a work surface. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the filling into the center of each wrapper (you may have extra filling); top with some of the cheese. Using your fingers, working 1 at a time, lightly moisten the edges of the wrappers with water; fold in half over the filling. Firmly press down on the edges with a fork to crimp and seal completely. Transfer to the prepared sheet pan.
  5. Place the empanadas in the oven and bake, rotating the sheet pan halfway through, 16 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed up. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 minutes before serving.
  6. While the empanadas bake, in a bowl, combine the crema, lime zest and the juice of 2 lime wedges; season with salt and pepper to taste. To make the salsa, in a separate bowl, combine the tomato, cilantro and the juice of the remaining lime wedges; toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the baked empanadas between 2 dishes; top with the salsa. Serve with the lime crema. Enjoy!

 

Soy & Vinegar Glazed Chicken

This recipe is so easy and yet the results reflect more effort… Never a bad thing!  The sauce is absolutely delicious. I served this most recently over Basmati rice to which I “yellowed” with a bit of turmeric. Just before serving, sweet peas were folded in for a brightness in color.

glazedchicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4-6 chicken legs (2 1/2 pounds total), drumsticks or thighs
  • 4 garlic cloves, pasted using a press or very finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (less 1/4 teaspoon if heat doesn’t appeal to you)
  • 1/4 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add chicken lightly salted (the soy sauce is salty) and fresh cracked pepper, skin side down, and cook until skin is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook 2 minutes more. Depending upon the size of your pan this may need to be done in batches. Transfer chicken to a plate.

  2. Discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in vinegar, soy sauce, red-pepper flakes, and sugar. Return chicken to pan along with any accumulated juices on the plate, skin side up. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low; cook 15 minutes (liquid should be gently simmering; adjust heat if necessary). Remove chicken to a clean plate. Raise heat to medium – high, and cook until sauce is reduced by half, 10 minutes. The sauce should become reduced and thicker. The sugar is caramelizing to make a sauce/glaze.

  3. Optional serving suggestion: Place chicken over rice then drizzle sauce; or serve with a side of sautéed greens, such as spinach, in garlic and oil.
Browning the chicken

Browning the chicken

 

Reducing the sauce

Reducing the sauce

 

Served over Basmati Rice with peas

Served over Basmati Rice with peas

Homemade Potato Gnocchi

If your family is Italian too, then you’ve experienced this dish. Possibly Nonna in the cucina (kitchen) working diligently to satisfy the family’s hunger for comforting food.  The word gnocchi in Italian means dumplings.

Gnocchi gently tossed with fresh pesto and finished with grated Parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

Gnocchi lightly tossed in homemade pesto and finished with a grating of Parmigiano and torn basil leaves.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (about 5 small)
  • Coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot, bring potatoes to a boil in salted water; reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, 35 to 40 minutes. Lightly dust two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets with flour; set aside. Drain potatoes and peel while still hot with a paring knife (use a thick, dry kitchen towel or pot holder to hold them). Immediately pass potatoes through a ricer onto a work surface. Let cool completely.

  2. Sprinkle potatoes with flour and 2 teaspoons salt, then top with egg. With your hands, work flour and egg into a dough.

  3. Knead dough until smooth but not elastic, dusting with flour if it becomes too sticky, 4 minutes. Do not overwork dough.

  4. Divide dough into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a rope (1/2 inch thick and 24 inches long). Cut each rope into 1/2-inch pieces.

  5. Gently roll each dough piece against the back tines of a fork to make ridges, then arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheets.

  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In batches, add a few handfuls gnocchi and cook until most have floated to top, 2 minutes. With a wire-mesh spider or a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi immediately to a sauce.

Note: as for sauce, pesto works nicely when you have good fresh basil around.  Also a very light simple marinara is satisfying. You can also consider a browned butter/sage sauce…mmmmmm

Portioning the dough and rolling into the "snake."

Portioning the dough and rolling into the “snake.”

 

Dough cut into individual gnocchi. Each dumpling rolled down the tines of a fork to create ridges.

Dough cut into individual gnocchi. Each dumpling rolled down the tines of a fork to create ridges.

 

Gnocchi simmering in salted water. When they float to the surface they are ready to be strained and plated/sauced.

Gnocchi simmering in salted water. When they float to the surface they are ready to be strained and plated/sauced.

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.

 

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