Tag Archives: recipes

Recipe Idea: Prepping Roasted Veggies for Later

roasted veggies yum

Great way to spread out the goodness of great tasting veggies.

I know it’s July, but here in Los Angeles we have finally gotten what we lovingly call ‘June Gloom’.  It stays overcast all day and isn’t quite as hot as it’s going to get for summer.  That’s not to say it’s actually cool out but, because it’s ‘gloomy’ outside you sort of think that it is.  It was the perfect time to hit the market and prep some roasted vegetables for the week.

When you slowly roast fresh veggies (any combination that you love) with some aromatics you have the basis for any meal of the day.   I always make enough for a couple of days – that way I can use them for breakfast with my eggs, lunch over some baby spinach or as the perfect side for my favorite crispy skin salmon.  I have a few rules that hold true no matter which vegetables you choose.

Always buy organic when possible. But not everything ‘has’ to be organic so check the ever-changing list of the Dirty Dozen to see which ones must be organic and the Clean 15 to see which contain the least amount of pesticides.  You can always depend that a thick-skinned vegetable, like butternut squash, is fine if it’s not organic.

Start roasting with the vegetables that will take the longest to cook.  That way as you’re adding more vegetables to your roasting pan everything will end up cooked the right amount of time.  For this group of vegetables- baby potatoes, summer squash, zucchini, onions, garlic, asparagus, mushrooms- the potatoes will need to cook the longest.  Cut the vegetables so that they are basically the same size.

I’m a sucker for potatoes (in any form) so if you’re like me you will want some roasted potatoes in the mix.  I used the baby multi-colored (just because they look good) ones.  Whatever potato you decide to use- boil them in fairly salty water till just barely fork tender, drain and let cool slightly.  Smash them which will allow for more crispy edges and place on a sheet tray.  Drizzle with good extra virgin Olive Oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, some fresh ground pepper and any herbs you want to start with (I used some Italian Rosemary that I brought home from Sicily on my last trip).  Toss them so all sides of the potatoes are coated and start roasting at 450°.  Check the potatoes after about 15 minutes for crispiness.

In this group the onions and fresh garlic (smashed as well) went into the pan next. Add a drizzle of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and more kosher salt and pepper with each new add of vegetables.  I know it sounds like a lot of salt but you will need it for flavor.  Remember to use only kosher salt as regular salt is way too salty.

Toss the mixture together every time you add new vegetables and then spread evenly across the sheet pan to evenly roast.  Next, I added the asparagus (you can see I peeled the stems – check out my blog on asparagus for tips on the prep).

The zucchini and summer squash next and then finally the mushrooms.  Check every 7-8 minutes after you add a new group of vegetable to make sure you don’t overcook.

Be sure to taste with each new addition so you can adjust seasoning.  If you think you have enough oil in the mix – stop adding it.

Let the mixture cool and place in a sealed container in your refrigerator.  It will last 2-3 days unless you eat it all sooner!  I’m going to take some of these roasted vegetables tomorrow morning, reheat them in a skillet, add some chopped tomato, crack an egg in the middle and cover to cook the egg.

Breakfast!!!  I can’t wait.

How to make a perfect “starter” with a great Shrimp Cocktail!

An easy recipe for shrimp cocktail that’s tasty and lovely to look at.

I have never met a “starter” I didn’t love. There are so many great ways kick-off an evening of fun with your friends or family but, for me, there’s just something about a great shrimp cocktail before dinner that sounds perfect. It’s one of the reasons that you’ll find it on every appetizer menu for the big steak houses around the neighborhood. Some restaurants serve them simply prepared and some serve them fancier (like when they serve the shrimp on top of dry ice so that it comes to the table ‘smoking’) but in the end it’s all about the perfectly poached shrimp and the flavors of the sauces the shrimp are served with.

It’s actually much easier than you think to create the absolutely perfect shrimp cocktail every time.  One of the significant advantages of poached shrimp is that a typical serving isn’t over-filling. That makes them fabulous to have solo as a light lunch or snack on a late weekend afternoon just before you go out for dinner and a show.

Read: Two drink recipes that go well with shrimp!

After trying so many recipes in search of the perfect shrimp cocktail, I found this recipe on Bon Appetit last year and tried it out immediately. It’s so easy. It requires NO special equipment other than measuring cups and spoons. The most challenging part is preparing the shrimp for poaching. And, the cocktail sauce is a quick mix-up of six easy ingredients.

Ask at the fish counter or your fish market if the shrimp is fresh.  Very often what you will find at the fish counter is shrimp that was once frozen but that the market has already thawed.  But, if you can find fresh it’s the best option.  Some fish mongers will de-vein them for you but, even if your fish monger will de-vein your shrimp – check them again to make sure that all of the intestine (that dark line along the back of the shrimp) is gone before you cook them.  If you can’t find them fresh then IQF (individually quick frozen) can work.  Just be sure that you thaw them only ONCE and cook them immediately.  Do not refreeze thawed shrimp.

Ingredients for Shrimp

  • 8 cups of ice (keep it ready just before you start)
  • 1⁄4 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp Morton’s kosher salt (Morton’s Kosher Salt is much ‘saltier’ than Diamond Crystal)
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar (I know it sounds strange – trust me)
  • 2 large lemons
  • 1 lb. jumbo shell-on shrimp, deveined

Ingredients for Cocktail Sauce

  • 1 cup chili sauce (preferably Heinz – saves you from having to add a whole bunch of additional spices)
  • 3⁄4 tsp finely grated lemon zest (just the yellow part, avoid the white as it will be bitter)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (this is about the juice of one medium lemon)
  • 2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3⁄4 tsp hot sauce (preferably Tabasco)

Prepare Shrimp

  1. Place the 8 cups of ice into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine salt, sugar, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan. Make sure the pan is large enough to hold the water, shrimp, plus the ice.
  3. Cut two lemons in half, squeeze the juice into the saucepan, then toss the lemon halves into the saucepan.
  4. Bring liquid to a boil – stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar fully. When everything is completely dissolved, remove saucepan from heat.
  5. Add shrimp and poach, uncovered, for 3-1/2 minutes. Set your timer so you don’t overcook!
  6. Immediately add the ice into the saucepan to rapidly chill the poaching liquid and stop the cooking. Let shrimp sit in the ice bath for about 10 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and peel, but leave the tails on. The tails are pretty and are perfect to pick up the shrimp with.  Pat them lightly dry again.  Place the shrimp in a dry bowl, cover, then let them chill in your refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
  7. You can poach and peel the shrimp a day ahead but be sure them keep it chilled.

Prepare Cocktail Sauce

  1. Mix the chili sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, horseradish, pepper, and hot sauce in a small bowl.
  2. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Serving Tips

You can also make the cocktail sauce a day ahead. Personally, I think it tastes better to let all the ingredients settle together in the refrigerator overnight. If you do it all a day ahead you will have the benefit of leaving yourself more time for your main course prep (if you’re having one) or time to just relax before your guests arrive.

Another tip: serve your poached shrimp ON ice. Don’t submerge cooked shrimp in ice water—that just makes them soggy, and soggy shrimp are definitely not appetizing. But, you absolutely want to keep the shrimp cool – therefore serve them on ice. And as a finishing service touch, cut a jumbo lemon into 1/8th wedges or 1/4” half rings and serve with your shrimp.

Watch my video to see the whole process in action.

Enjoy.

A Quick and Easy Weeknight Dinner Recipe for Tomato Feta Galette

Recipe for Tomato Feta Galette

Nothing fancy and so very easy; you can even serve this recipe at room temperature!

A long time ago I learned that the tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable. So, for years now I have been enjoying the expressions I get when someone asks me to name my favorite fruit and I say “tomato.”

Okay, so I’m siding with the botanists here because nutritionists still categorize it as a vegetable. Maybe it’s both! Uh oh, now I’ve just triggered a new conversation that’ll take at least an hour or so for people to Google on their phones. You know me and how much I love triggering conversations! It’s an art!

Seriously, though – fruit or veggie – the tomato is lovely to behold and sweet to eat no matter the variety – especially when it’s in season like it is now. I love them on anything – pasta, salads, and savory dishes. I’ll even eat one like an apple with a pinch of sea salt!

No surprise, I will try just about any recipe where tomatoes are the attore principale or ‘main actor’ in a dish like this quick and easy Tomato Feta Galette I found on one of my favorite recipe sources: The Kitchn (www.thekitchn.com).

The recipe involves just a bit of quick and easy preparation.  Check out my video where I show you how it’s done. Don’t be intimidated – everything you need is found at the store. The pie crust is even found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store (you can make it from scratch but it’s definitely NOT necessary).

The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it comes during the last weeks of summer where tomatoes are still in season (through September) and the patio beckons us to dine al fresco. Make this, add a simple salad and a glass of pinot grigio (if you like) and I guarantee a lovely informal evening with friends and a few more wonderful food memories.

You’ll need:

  • 1 pie crust; make one yourself if you really feel adventurous, but I used a store-bought pie crust and it tasted great.
  • 6 ounces of feta cheese.
  • 1 medium-sized shallot, sliced and separated into ‘rings’
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme leaves (just slide your fingers down the stalk – and pull the leaves off) plus a couple of sprigs of thyme for decoration
  • 1 TBS basil leaves, chopped
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 3 medium-sized tomatoes (about 1 pound), sliced about ¼” thick.
  • A large baking sheet (at least 12” wide).
  • Parchment paper, or a Silpat nonstick baking mat if you have one for the baking sheet

Preparation:

  1. Be sure to preheat your oven to 400°F and position the rack in about the middle of the oven.
  2. Lightly flour a flat surface and use a floured rolling pin to roll out the pie crust dough to about 12” diameter. It doesn’t have to be perfectly round. The pie crust will end up about 1/8” thick.
  3. When you’re done, gently roll up the pie crust dough around the rolling pin and lay it out onto the prepared baking sheet. You’ll want that parchment paper or silpat to make sure the galette won’t stick to the pan.
  4. Sprinkle the feta evenly onto the dough. Leave about a 2” margin from the edge, then add the shallots, thyme leaves, basil, salt, and pepper. Lay the tomatoes over the cheese and herbs.
  5. Fold the edges of the dough over the top of the tomatoes. Pleat the dough every so often by pinching it. My video will show you how that’s done. Don’t sweat perfection – the more ‘lumpy’ it looks, the better.
  6. Top it off with the sprigs of thyme.
  7. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the crust is golden-brown and the tomatoes are soft. Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes, then transfer it to a wire baker’s rack to chill out for another 10-15 minutes.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature for a party of six with good-sized portions.

A tip about the tomatoes in this recipe: tomatoes are super juicy and full of water. Avoid ending up with a soggy crust bottom by making sure that you use enough feta to cover the pie crust dough entirely. This will keep tomato juices from soaking into the crust while baking.

That’s about it. Enjoy the last days of summer!

Recipe for a Warm-up: Bloody Mary Soup

Bloody Mary Soup

A new food memory: try my friend’s recipe for this delicious Bloody Mary Soup.

A few years ago, on what in Southern California is considered a “cold” winter day, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted a Bloody Mary.

We were actually standing on her balcony watching the sunset with friends. Despite my thick coat, gloves, and my beanie, I was still freezing! Okay, the wind was also making it pretty cold, and we had just got the fire going, so give me a break.

“In this weather?” I was a little astonished.

“Soup,” she finished.

That was when I noticed she was handing me a stoneware mug with the most delicious-tasting savory soup I’ve had in years. And now that I have the recipe, whenever I cook up a batch of this marvelous soup, I think of my friend and the great time we had with our friends that cold afternoon on her patio.

I believe food is a fabulous way to bring people together. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you also know that I have a real love for delicious recipes. Put them together, and you have what I call “food memories” – it’s one of the more emotional aspects of sophisticated living.

Now, with my friend’s permission, I’d like to share this wonderful soup with you, with the hopes that you’ll make some great food memories of your own. And before we go any further – yes, it is a “Bloody Mary” in the truest sense.

Ingredients

  • 2 TBS chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1-2 onions, chopped
  • ½ cup of your favorite vodka (Chopin Vodka).
  • 2 cups V-8 juice – your choice, regular or spicy (I use spicy)
  • 2 cups chicken or beef stock (broth) (I use beef for a richer taste)
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire sauce (make sure you shake it up)
  • 1 28oz or 32oz can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes or diced tomatoes (I use Fire Roasted tomatoes)
  • ¼ cup horseradish (prepare to taste – I use way less because I use the Spicy V-8), add a dash of your favorite hot sauce if you like.

Instructions

Bloody Mary Soup recipe Fran Berger

You probably already have what you need to make this recipe.

In advance of cooking, I recommend that you prepare the “liquids” in one large bowl. Combine the V-8 juice, chicken or beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and your tomatoes (canned or freshly cut). Don’t strain the tomatoes. Mix everything up and set aside.

Coat the bottom of a stock pot with olive oil and heat (medium). Add thyme leaves, garlic, celery ribs, onion (all chopped) and sauté on medium (cook until tender and onions are golden). By the way, make sure that your stock pot is large enough to hold everything – including all of the liquid!

Add the vodka to deglaze the veggies – scrape up all those beautiful browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the alcohol has “cooked off” – shy of a minute at medium heat.

Get your bowl of liquids and pour it in!  This is where a large stock pot is really useful. I recommend Staub’s 4-quart “Cocotte” for this task, because you’re going to heat this up until it boils, then reduce heat and let it simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. I’ve let this go for up to 50 minutes and it seems to cook up the tomatoes very nicely. But as I always say, watch your pots!

Stir occasionally while simmering. Add the horseradish and hot sauce GRADUALLY. Taste often to make sure that you don’t overpower the other flavors. You can always set aside the horseradish and hot sauce for guests to flavor up for themselves.

When time’s up, turn off the heat.  Use an immersion blender to carefully puree the tomatoes, and serve warm in a big mug.  This recipe will make 6-8 servings (depending on the size of your mug) and can be doubled or tripled (or more!) for your party – just be sure your pot is big enough!

Add a pickled bean stalk or pickled artichoke as a garnish to add even more flavor. See my blog post on pickling. And see my video using this recipe.

The last touch: a shot of Chopin Vodka, if you like. Either way, it’ll taste so amazing served hot. Absolutely the best “bloody mary” you’ll ever make for yourself. Watch this video to see how easy it is!

Enjoy!

Tomato and Cabbage Tabbouleh

tomato-and-cabbage-tabbouleh

In Tomato Heaven with Cabbage Tabbouleh

I love tomatoes – served any way that is possible.  I’ve been known to simply salt them and eat them like apples – one bite at a time (I always remember my Father eating them like that) or if they’re tiny then I just pop them in my mouth and enjoy their natural sweetness.  Delicious!  This recipe stopped me because of the beautiful colors from the tomatoes and mint AND it’s so easy.  It would be great for a BBQ.  It was created by Anissa Helou and published in bon appétit July 2014. Serves 8, all you need is a room full of friends and family to enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup bulgur (not quick-cooking)
  • ½ medium head green cabbage, cut into 1”-thick wedges, then very thinly sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
  • 1 small sweet onion (such as Vidalia), finely chopped
  • 4 cups assorted small tomatoes, halved, quartered if large
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ½ crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt

Directions

Place bulgur in a large bowl and add 1½ cups boiling water. Let soak until softened and water is absorbed, 40–45 minutes.

Toss bulgur, cabbage, onion, tomatoes, mint, oil, lemon juice, and Aleppo pepper in a large bowl to combine; season with salt.

DO AHEAD:Tabbouleh (without oil and lemon juice) can be made 4 hours ahead. Toss with oil and lemon juice just before serving.

 

 

Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Cherry Tomato Panzanella

crispy-chicken-cutlets-cherry-tomato-panzanella

A Fond Food Memory in the Making with Panzanella

Chicken cutlets are great for a week night dinner as they cook quickly and with the colorful cherry tomato salad served on top you’re basically done with dinner preparation and you’ve easily created a wonderful food memory!  The recipe calls for “bone in” chicken breasts but I would buy boneless/skin on chicken breasts and eliminate the need to debone the chicken – way easier – just be sure to pound the breasts evenly so that they cook properly.  There were a few comments posted with this recipe where the writer used boneless/skinless chicken breasts and loved the recipe that way so if you don’t want skin it will definitely turn out well.  This was created by Alison Roman and was published in bon appétit July 2015. Serves 4 friends or family members.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, divided
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup torn country-style bread, (from about 1/4 small loaf)
  • 2 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 3/4 cup parsley leaves with tender stems

Directions

  1. Combine onion and 2 tablespoons vinegar in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add bread; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until golden brown, 5–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Wipe out skillet.
  3. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut bones and cartilage from chicken breasts. Pound chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4″ thick; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high. Cook 1 chicken breast, skin side down, until golden brown and nearly cooked through, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until cooked through, about 1 minute more; second side will not brown. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with remaining cutlet and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (no need to wipe out skillet).
  5. Cut half of tomatoes in half. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in same skillet over medium-high. Add whole tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until lightly blistered and starting to burst, about 5 minutes. Toss in sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar. Transfer to bowl with croutons. Add pickled onion with pickling liquid, halved tomatoes, parsley, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss. Serve chicken with panzanella spooned over.

A Simple, Easy Treat: Great Golden Oven Fries

golden-oven-fries

Wanna Enjoy a Pan of Deep Golden Fries?

Did someone say you could get great French fries from the oven?  I’m in!  I am a serious potato lover in any form, it’s kind of pathetic- I can’t leave them alone – and if they’re fried then I’m completely gone.  Some of my favorite food memories are of eating crispy French fries with my friends at the local drive-in when I was in High School.  The secret to really great French fries, you know the ones that are very crispy outside and soft and wonderful inside, is to fry them twice.  Apparently there’s a very simple secret to get this wonderful result without, I repeat, without your fryer.  This recipe is from Deb Perelman on her website,  smittenkitchen.com , from October 28, 2015.  She said it was inspired by Michael Chiarello’s technique.  I’m trying it immediately! A treat for about 4 people.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium Yukon Gold or 3 smallish Russet potatoes (I find these to be equivalent in size, although the specific size isn’t terribly important)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fine sea salt

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 450°F
  • Peel your potatoes if you wish; scrub them well if you do not. Cut potatoes into just-shy-of 1/2-inch batons. Place in a large pot and cover with an inch or two of water. Set heat to high and set timer for 10 minutes. If potatoes come to a boil in this time (mine usually do not), reduce the heat to medium. Otherwise, when timer rings, whether or not the potatoes have boiled, test one. You’re looking for a very “al dente” potato — one that is too firm to eat enjoyable, but has no crunch left. A good sign that they’re not too cooked is when you roughly tumble them into a colander, only one or two break.
  • Meanwhile, coat a large baking sheet with 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and place it in the oven for a few minutes, so the oil gets very hot and rolls easily around the pan.
  • Drain your potatoes and immediately spread them on oiled baking sheet in one layer. Drizzle with last tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast for 20 minutes, until golden underneath. Toss potatoes around to encourage them to color evenly and return them to the oven for another 5 minutes. Repeat this 1 or 2 more times (for me, 30 minutes total roasting time is the sweet spot), until your “fries” are deeply golden, brown at the edges and impossible not to eat.
  • Season with more salt while they’re hot, pile them on a platter and dig in.

More than a Traditional Panzanella: With Beet and Rye

http://franberger.wpengine.com/beet-and-rye-panzanella-salad-recipe

Beet and Rye Panzanella Salad – a Recipe with a Dash of Tradition

I love a good traditional Panzanella Salad and will order it every time at my favorite Italian restaurants.  But, when I saw the picture of this recipe in the February 2016 edition of bon appétit for Beet and Rye Panzanella created by Claire Saffitz, I was blown away by the colors of the dish.  We all eat with our eyes and I absolutely had to see how this gorgeous salad was made-the photograph was that beautiful.  After seeing how truly simple this salad is I’m going to use it for my next get-together and make a perfect food memory from a perfect salad! Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1½ pounds small beets, any color, scrubbed (about 10)
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ loaf rye bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large orange
  • 4 ounces ricotta salata (salted dried ricotta), crumbled
  • 1 cup torn fresh herbs (such as dill, parsley, tarragon, and mint)

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Place beets in a shallow 2-qt. baking dish and add water to come ½” up sides. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake beets until tender and a cake tester or paring knife easily slides through flesh, 45–60 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, toss onion, 3 Tbsp. vinegar, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl to combine; set aside.
  • Toss torn bread and 2 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet to coat; season with salt and pepper. Bake, tossing once, until bread is golden brown and crisp around edges, 8–10 minutes; set aside.
  • Rub beets with paper towels to remove skins, then halve (or quarter if large) and place in a large bowl; add onion with liquid.
  • Using a small sharp knife, remove peel and white pith from orange. Working over bowl with beets, cut between membranes to release segments into bowl. Squeeze membranes to release juices; discard. Add reserved toasted bread and 2 Tbsp. oil and toss to combine. Let sit a few minutes for flavors to meld.
  • Just before serving, fold in ricotta salata and herbs, drizzle with more oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

 

Thinking Big with Beer-Braised Carnitas

Beer Braised Carnitas

More than One Food Memory from Carnitas: Delicious Pulled Pork

I love Carnitas on anything – only one problem –  you can’t ever make a small amount of it.  But, the great thing about bulk recipes is that they can be used in multiple ways and you can make more than one food memory all from one pot!   This recipe for Beer-Braised Carnitas is one of those – you can use it for tacos, burritos, nachos, over a simple salad, added to eggs for a breakfast skillet with hash browns– and that’s just off the top of my head!  I found this on one of my favorite recipe sites- epicurious.  It was published in February 2013 by bon appétit and was created by Chris Morocco.  Please note: more than one reviewer suggested cutting the salt in half.

Ingredients

  • 2 dried New Mexico or guajillo chiles
  • 4 pounds skinless, boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 2″ pieces
  • 12 ounce lager (such as Modelo Especial or Budweiser)
  • 4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt

Preparation

  1. Toast chiles in a dry large heavy pot over medium heat until slightly puffed and lightly darkened on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove from pot; let cool. Stem chiles and halve lengthwise; discard seeds.
  2. Bring chiles, pork, beer, garlic, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in same pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pork is fork-tender, 60-80 minutes.
  3. Uncover pork; simmer until liquid evaporates and pork begins to brown, 20-25 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pot, until pork is shredded and browned, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup water to pork; cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, for about 1 minute.
  5. DO AHEAD: Carnitas can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool. Cover and chill. Reheat with 1/2 cup water in a covered pot, adding more water if needed to keep pork moist.

Easy Recipe for Gnocchi with Sausage and Tomatoes in a Skillet

Gnocchi on your Favorite Skillet

Food Memory in the Making: All you need is your favorite skillet.

This recipe for gnocchi on a skillet is so quick and easy. The big plus is that it looks beautiful on the plate – color in the dish is always important as we eat with our eyes.  It reminds me of a favorite food memory – the first time I ever tasted Gnocchi – they were so soft and delicate.  I found this recipe on a fabulous website, thekitchn.com, in a list called “23 Romantic Recipes” that appeared earlier this week.  One of the best things about this recipe is that you can use store-bought gnocchi. And if you already have a skillet, you’re good to go! Gnocchi is a dough dumpling that is usually made from a coarse, purified wheat that’s also used in pasta and couscous, among other things. Add in just about any type of Italian sausage you like. And as for me, the spicier the better! The recipe also suggests finishing with grated fresh Parmesan cheese. You can do that, it’s not necessary if you’d rather not have cheese, but trust me it adds a wonderful taste to the dish. This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound gnocchi
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 9 ounces (about 3 links) cooked chicken sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick coins
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 to 2 ounces fresh basil, julienned (1/2 to 1 cup loosely packed)

Preparation

  1. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling; cook the gnocchi for 2 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and toss with a drizzle of olive oil.
  2. Heat a 10-inch or larger cast iron skillet over medium heat with a light drizzle of olive oil. Add the sausage and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Push the sausage into a pile at the edge of the skillet and turn the heat up to high.
  3. When the skillet is quite hot, add the tomatoes, skin down, crowding them in if necessary. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until they are blistered, then stir in with the sausage. Cook for 2 more minutes, until both tomatoes and sausage are slightly browned. Stir in gnocchi and cook just until all is combined, but the tomatoes have not broken down into sauce.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Cooking tip: a cast iron skillet is preferred only because it will give you the best color and sear to the sausage and tomatoes but any skillet will work as long as it does NOT have a non-stick coating.  That will interfere with the browning.

Brunch? How about a Frittata with Fontina Cheese and Mushrooms?

mushroom-leek-and-fontina-frittata

Frittata with Mushroom, Leek, and Fontina Cheese

Eggs are my favorite food and I could eat them all day long for every meal.   Frittatas are almost a perfect egg dish because they don’t have to be served hot to be delicious!  In fact, they can be served at room temperature so they’re a perfect do-ahead entrée when you have friends over for breakfast or dinner.  This recipe for a vegetarian frittata is from the bon appétit test kitchen issue February 2013.

Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium leeks, whites and pale-green parts only, chopped
  • 8 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 12 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese, divided
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

PREPARATION

  1. Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10″ nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until softened and all liquid has evaporated, 8-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, crème fraîche, and parsley in a large bowl; mix in 1/2 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Increase the heat to medium-high and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Pour the egg mixture over the mushrooms, shaking the pan to evenly distribute mixture. Cook the frittata, without stirring, until its edges begin to set, about 5 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over eggs and transfer skillet to oven. Bake frittata until golden brown and center is set, 25-30 minutes.

 

Summer Salad with Arugula-Mint Pesto

Snap Peas and Green Beans with Arugula-Mint Pesto

Snap Peas and Green Beans with Arugula-Mint Pesto

What a great way to spring into summer. I found this fresh Snap Peas and Green Bean salad recipe on Epicurious from the bon appétit June 2015 issue.  It was created by Carla Lalli Music.  I think I’ll follow the suggestion and use the pesto on almost any sandwich I can think of-especially grilled chicken. Makes 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw skin-on almonds
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 2 cups (lightly packed) baby arugula
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, shaved, divided
  • 1 cup mint leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 12 ounces sugar snap peas
  • 12 ounces green and/or wax beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon wedges (for serving)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened in color, 8–10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop half of almonds and set aside. Pulse remaining almonds with garlic, arugula, half of Parmesan, and 1 cup mint in a food processor to a smooth paste. With motor running, stream in oil; thin with 2 tablespoons cold water to reach a pourable consistency. Season pesto with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook peas and beans in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain; transfer to a bowl of ice water and chill until cold. Drain peas and beans; pat dry with paper towels. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with lemon juice and 3 tablespoons pesto; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange peas and beans in a large bowl or platter over remaining pesto. Top with more mint leaves, reserved almonds, and remaining Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Do Ahead: Peas and beans can be blanched 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.