Friday, May 29, 2015

Rustica Torte

Makes 12 servings

1        small butternut squash (1 -1/2 pounds ) peeled , seeded and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3        eggs
3        cups ricotta cheese
1        cup graded Romano cheese
1        teaspoon rubbed sage
1        teaspoon water
1        small onion , chopped
2        tablespoons olive oil
2       packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach , thawed and squeeze dry
2       garlic cloves , minced
1/4    teaspoon ground nutmeg
1       package (17.3 ounces) frozen puff pastry , thawed

1.   Place squash slices on baking sheet coated with cooking spray . Lightly spritz with cooking spray . Bake at 400* for 15 minutes or until tender .

2 .   Meanwhile , in a bowl , combine two eggs , cheese and sage in a small bowl , whisk the water and remaining egg ; set aside .

3 .  In a large skillet , saute onion in oil until tender . Stir in spinach , garlic and nutmeg . Cook and stir for 2 minutes ; set aside .

4 .   Unfold one pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface . Roll out into a 14-inch square  . Press onto bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-inch spring-form pan , allowing the excess pastry to drape over the edges . Brush with reserved egg mixture .

5 .   Layer with half of the squash , cheese mixture and spinach . Repeat layers . Roll out the remaining pastry into a 10-inch square , place over filling . Trim edges ; fold the bottom pastry over the top and press edges to seal . Reroll pastry trimmings . Cut out with a small leaf cookie cutter , place on torte . Brush with egg mixture .

6 .   Place pan on baking sheet . Bake at 400* for 40 to 45 minutes . Serve warm or at room temperature . Refrigerate leftovers .


The wonderful flavor and lovely look of this cheese and vegetable pie is worth the bit of extra effort it takes to prepare it . The butternut squash adds a subtle sweetness that's irresistible .

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Pasta with Cabbage, Pancetta & Mozzarella

This recipe that will leave you bacon for more. Pancetta takes the lead when flavoring this pasta project. The bacon-like meat offers a strong, smoked flavor that blends perfectly with cabbage and mozzarella.
                                 Serves   4

10             strips pancetta, thinly sliced
Olive oil
1             clove garlic, finely chopped
1             good handful thyme, leaves picked from the stem
1/2          large Savoy cabbage (outer leaves removed), quartered, cored, and finely sliced Handful grated Parmesan cheese
1             pound dried conchiglie
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
7             ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2            handfuls pine nuts, lightly toasted

In a pan fry add pancetta and some olive oil; cook until lightly golden. Add garlic and thyme and cook until softened. Add the cabbage and Parmesan, then stir and put the lid on the pan. Cook for a further 15 minutes, shaking every now and again, while you cook conchiglie in salted boiling water until al dente. When the cabbage is nice and tender season with some nice peppery extra-virgin olive oil. Toss the drained conchiglie into the cabbage and at the last minute mix in mozzarella and pine nuts.
 Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Creole Spiced Short Ribs


1/4         cup coriander seeds
2            tablespoons cumin seeds
1            tablespoon black peppercorns
1            tablespoon ground ginger
1            tablespoon ground cardamom
1            tablespoon cinnamon
1            teaspoon ground cloves
1/2         teaspoon crushed red pepper    
3            bay leaves, crumbled
2            tablespoons canola oil
4            boneless short ribs (10 to 12 ounces each), trimmed of fat
1            large onion, thinly sliced
2            carrots, chopped
1            celery rib, chopped
3            plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2            heads of garlic, halved crosswise
2            cups dry red wine
1           quart chicken stock or broth

1 .   Preheat the oven to 325°. In a small skillet, toast the coriander and cumin seeds over moderately high heat, shaking the pan constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a spice grinder and let cool. Add the peppercorns, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, crushed red pepper and bay leaves and pulse the garam masala to a powder.

2 .   In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Season the short ribs with salt and sear them over high heat until browned and crusty all over, about 15 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate.

3 .   Add the onion, carrots and celery to the casserole and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic and 3 tablespoons of the garam masala (there will be extra) and cook until fragrant and the tomatoes are beginning to break down, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the casserole, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Return the meat to the casserole and season with salt. Cover and braise in the oven for about 2 hours, until just tender but not falling apart.

4 .   Transfer the meat to a baking sheet. Strain the liquid into a saucepan. Skim off and discard the fat that rises to the surface. Boil over high heat until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes.

5 .   Preheat the broiler and position a rack 8 inches from the heat. Brush the meat with some of the sauce and broil for 3 minutes per side, until browned and sizzling. Sprinkle the meat lightly with garam masala, then slice it 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to plates and serve with the remaining sauce.

Make ahead:
The recipe can be prepared ahead through Step 4; refrigerate the meat and sauce separately for up to 3 days.

Suggested Pairing
Try a full-bodied, peppery Zinfandel from California.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cajun Catfish with Okra & Corn

Purchased Cajun or Creole seasoning flavors both the catfish and vegetables in this 30-minute dinner. This dish is best with fresh vegetables, but I were pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out with frozen okra and corn. Serve with cheese grits and a green salad.
Total Time: 30 minutes               Makes  4 servings

2             cups fresh or frozen sliced okra
1-3/4      cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears; see Tip), or frozen
1            medium onion, diced
2            teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1-3/4     teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning, divided
1            pound catfish fillets, patted dry and cut into 4 portions

1 .   Preheat oven to 450°F.

2 .   Combine okra, corn, onion, 2 teaspoons oil and 3/4 teaspoon Cajun (or Creole) seasoning in a large bowl. Spread the mixture out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring twice, until the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

3 .   Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of catfish with the remaining 1 teaspoon Cajun (or Creole) seasoning. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add the fish and cook until just cooked through and starting to brown, about 4 minutes per side. Serve with the roasted vegetable

Friday, May 15, 2015

Waffles made with Sweet Potatoes

BREAKFAST    or     BRUNCH           SERVES   4

2             cups all-purpose flour
1             cup mashed sweet potatoes -- already cooked
2             eggs -- lightly beaten
1/4          cup milk
1/4          cup butter -- melted
3              tablespoons sugar
2/3          teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, potatoes, butter and eggs. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ones. Stir well. Cook waffles at your favorite setting.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Chili-Cheese Chicken

Make 4 servings

This recipe puts a Mexican twist on traditional crockpot chicken. Enjoy this slow-cooked meal which bursts with flavor! It's a great way to add a little spice to your life.

1/2        cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4        cup diced green bell pepper
1/4        cup diced red bell pepper
1/4        cup minced cilantro
1/4        cup diced tomatoes
1/2        teaspoon  chili powder
1/2        teaspoon  ground cumin
1/8        teaspoon  salt
4           skinless, boneless chicken breasts - pounded to 1/4 inch thickness (do this yourself or buy them cut this way)

In a bowl, mix the shredded cheese, peppers, cilantro, and tomatoes. Season with chili powder, cumin, and salt. Cover one side of the chicken breasts with enough cheese mixture to coat. Roll breasts over mixture, and secure with toothpicks. Place the chicken breasts in a crock-pot. Pour in the remaining cheese mixture. Cover, and cook 3 hours on High.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Chicken Fried Steak & Redeye Curry Gravy

TOTAL TIME: 30 MIN             SERVINGS: 6
Crispy fried steak with a richly flavored gravy spiked with curry powder, coffee and Sriracha chile sauce.

1                large egg, lightly beaten
1/2             cup milk
1-1/2          cups all-purpose flour
Freshly ground pepper
12             1/4-inch-thick slices of top-round beef (about 18 ounces)
Vegetable oil
1               small onion, thinly sliced
2               garlic cloves, minced
1               tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1               tablespoon mild Madras curry powder
1-1/2        tablespoons Sriracha
1/2           cup strong-brewed coffee
1              13-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
2              tablespoons lime juice
Lime wedges for serving
1-1/2       teaspoons sugar

1 . In a pie plate, whisk the egg with the milk. In another pie plate, generously season the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in the flour, tapping off the excess. Dip the coated slices in the beaten egg mixture and dredge again in the flour, lightly patting the coating to help it adhere.

2 . In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Working in 2 batches, fry the steak over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season lightly with salt.

3 . Pour the cooking oil into a heatproof cup and wipe out the skillet. Return 2 tablespoons of the oil to the skillet and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and Sriracha and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the coffee and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lime juice and sugar, season the gravy with salt and pepper and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.

4 . Put the chicken-fried steaks in shallow bowls. Top with the curry gravy and serve with lime wedges.
Serve With Egg noodles.

Suggested Pairing :
Spicy, coffee-scented Argentinean Syrah.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cherry Gravy & Braised Pork

PREP / TOTAL TIME: 5 hours plus overnight chilling SERVINGS: 6

4               pounds boneless pork shoulder, tied
Salt and freshly ground pepper
7               tablespoons vegetable oil
6               celery ribs, coarsely chopped
2               carrots, coarsely chopped
3               large onions, coarsely chopped
1/4            cup tomato paste
1               cup dry red wine
6               cups chicken stock or broth
1               cup dried sour cherries
2               large fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
2               large leeks, white and pale green parts, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
1-1/2         cups heavy cream
1/4            cup grated young pecorino cheese
1/4            cup chives, cut in 1/2-inch lengths

1 .   Preheat the oven to 350°. Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, brown the pork in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Remove the pork; pour off the fat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to the pot. Add the celery, carrots and 2 onions and cook over moderate heat until golden, 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste, wine and stock; bring to a boil. Add the pork and cherries, cover and braise in the oven for 4 hours. Cool. Refrigerate overnight.

2 .   Skim the fat from the liquid and remove the pork. Boil the gravy until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 25 minutes. Strain the gravy into a saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Untie the pork; slice into 6 medallions.

3 .    In a skillet, mix 2 tablespoons of the oil with the fennel, leeks and remaining onion. Cover and cook over moderate heat until softened, 7 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until thickened, 10 minutes. Add the cheese and chives, and season with salt and pepper.

4 .   In nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the pork and brown well. Serve with the gravy and vegetables.

Suggested Pairing
Tart cherryscented, medium-bodied Chianti.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lets Celebrate Cinco de Mayo : Chicken Tamale Potpies /Spicy Black Beans/Ginger Turkey /Chicken Meatball Soup

                                           Serves 4
Serve these individual potpies with a side of spicy black beans  Turkey /Chicken Meatball Soup (recipes below)

 2       teaspoons canola oil
1       cup chopped onion 
12     ounces ground chicken
1       tablespoon ground cumin
1/2    teaspoon chili powder
1/2    teaspoon salt, divided
1       cup chopped zucchini
3/4    cup fresh corn kernels
1     10-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chiles, un-drained
1     8-ounce can unsalted tomato sauce
Cooking spray 
1/2   cup coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
1-1/2   cups water, divided
3          ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded and divided (about 3/4 cup)
Make a Ginger Turkey /Chicken Meatball Soup (recipe below )

1.    Preheat oven to 400°.
2.    Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Stir in cumin, chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute. Add zucchini, corn, tomatoes, and tomato sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Divide chicken mixture evenly among 4 (10-ounce) ramekins coated with cooking spray. Place ramekins on a jelly-roll pan.
3.    Place remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cornmeal, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl, stirring to combine. Bring remaining 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Gradually add cornmeal mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in 2 ounces cheese. Divide cornmeal mixture evenly among ramekins. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 ounce cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

Spicy Black Beans:
Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves; sauté until soft.
Stir in 1 (15-ounce) can rinsed and drained black beans,
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind; cook until thoroughly heated (about 5 minutes).
Stir in 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, if desired.

Ginger Turkey /Chicken Meatball Soup:
2         teaspoons canola oil
1/4     cup finely chopped green onions (2)
8        cloves garlic, minced
1        tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2        egg whites
3/4     cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1/2     cup finely chopped red sweet pepper (1 small)
3        tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2        teaspoons sesame oil
1        pound uncooked ground chicken breast or turkey breast
1/2     cup chopped yellow onion (1 medium)
2-1/2  cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2  cups water
2        tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1        tablespoon honey
1        teaspoon crushed red pepper
1-1/2  cups cooked brown rice
1/2     cup snipped fresh basil
1 .  In a large nonstick skillet heat canola oil over medium heat. Add green onions; cook and stir about 2 minutes or until tender. Add half of the garlic and the ginger; cook and stir for 30 seconds more. Remove from heat.
2 .  In a large bowl combine green onion mixture, egg whites, panko, sweet pepper, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil. Add ground chicken; mix well. Shape chicken mixture into 1-inch meatballs. In the same skillet cook meatballs over medium-high heat until brown, turning occasionally. Set aside.
3 .  In a large saucepan heat the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add yellow onion; cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until nearly tender, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, broth, the water, vinegar, honey, and crushed red pepper. Bring to boiling; stir in meatballs. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, until meatballs are cooked through (165 degrees F). Stir in cooked rice and basil.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cabbage , Pancetta , Mozzarella with Pasta

10          strips pancetta, thinly sliced
Olive oil
1           clove garlic, finely chopped
1           good handful thyme, leaves picked from the stem
1/2        large  cabbage (outer leaves removed), quartered, cored, and finely sliced
Handful grated Parmesan cheese
1          pound dried conchiglie
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
7          ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2          handfuls pine nuts, lightly toast

In a pan fry add pancetta and some olive oil; cook until lightly golden. Add garlic and thyme and cook until softened. Add the cabbage and Parmesan, then stir and put the lid on the pan. Cook for a further 15 minutes, shaking every now and again, while you cook conchiglie in salted boiling water until al dente. When the cabbage is nice and tender season with some nice peppery extra-virgin olive oil. Toss the drained conchiglie into the cabbage and at the last minute mix in mozzarella and pine nuts. Serve immediately.