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Easy Rice & Beans (and yes, all in one pot!)

Ingredients

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped (I prefer medium to large)

4 garlic cloves thinly sliced cross-wise

1 ¾ cups chicken or vegetable stock or water

1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup long-grain rice (I prefer basmati)

1 (15.5-ounce) can black or pinto beans

1 (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes (unseasoned/no-salt)

2-3 tablespoons of your favorite spicy condiment (optional if spicy isn’t your thing) (you can always make my Italian “bomba” which is what I use) Bomba: http://westchestereats.com/?p=1996

Procedure

In a large pot (think Dutch oven) with a tight-fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until translucent. Add the stock, cover and bring to a boil.

Add the salt, rice, beans, and tomatoes (including the liquid). If using, add your spicy condiment. Stir to combine. Allow the mixture to come back to a boil. Cover the pot.

Turn the heat down as low as it will go, then let simmer, undisturbed, for 18 – 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 4 minutes, then fluff with a fork. I also find that with a wooden spoon I scrape anything that has accumulated at the bottom of the pot (that has flavor, too!)

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Optional: when serving, garnish with lime or cilantro. Sometimes I will even add just a little sour cream 😉

Korean spiced and marinated soy eggs

  • 6 large eggs
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
  • 4 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar

  • Gently lower eggs into a large saucepan of boiling water. When water returns to a gentle boil, cook 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool 2 minutes (eggs may still be a little warm). Remove eggs from ice water and peel.
  • Meanwhile, bring garlic, chiles, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add eggs. Let sit at least 1 hour.
  • If not serving immediately, refrigerate. Bring to room temperature prior to serving.

White Bean Salad in Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Ingredients

Vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato-infused oil (from jar of sun-dried tomatoes)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, pressed (pasted) or finely minced

¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

¼ teaspoon coarse salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Beans:

2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup diced red onion

6 basil leaves, chopped

1 ounce grated Manchego or Romano cheese

Procedure

To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, tomatoes, salt and pepper into a small bowl until salt is incorporated and dissolved. Whisk the oils into the mixture until fully combined.

Place beans into a large bowl and pour the vinaigrette over the beans.  Gently fold the beans together. Let the bean and vinaigrette blend stand for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, add onion, basil, and cheese, gently folding everything together until completely combined.

Serve at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Joyce Goldstein’s Mediterranean Fresh (2008)

Cherry Tomato Salad with Soy Sauce and Basil

The combination of ingredients in this salad may seem unusual; but the end result is worth it. Quality ingredients in, equal a better final dish. I enjoy this dish as a side or even as a stand-alone lunch.

Serves 2

Note: This recipe can easily be adjusted by doubling ingredients, etc.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons good quality soy sauce, or more according to your taste (make sure soy sauce is made with real soy)
  • Pinch of sugar (cane sugar is better than refined)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup chopped basil, quantity based upon preference
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Procedure

  1. Slice cherry tomatoes crosswise and set aside
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the soy sauce, sugar, and oil stirring to incorporate ensuring sugar is dissolved
  3. Add tomatoes and basil to the sauce, folding so that tomatoes are coated
  4. Grind a healthy amount freshly ground pepper into the mixture and stir to combine
  5. Allow salad to stand for at 30 minutes at room temperature prior to serving.

 

 

 

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!

 

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