Kohlrabi Salad

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If you have ventured through the farmers markets lately or joined a CSA, you are probably looking at a few bulbs of Kohlrabi to use up.  The first time I tried kohlrabi I grilled it with onions, garlic, salt and pepper.  It turned out good but nothing to rave over.  My friend suggested just eating the slices raw with olive oil and salt/pepper to taste.  She was right, raw is the way to go with this.  The flavor is similar to broccoli stem or cabbage, but more delicate.  This simple salad uses up these strange looking orbs in a fresh way.  I didn’t fully skin the bulbs before thinly slicing, but I did scale down some of the thicker portions of the skin to avoid any woody or tough pieces in the salad.  The leafy greens are edible too, I plan to pulverize those in my morning smoothie.

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Ingredients:

1-2 bulbs of kohlrabi cleaned and sliced thin
1/2 red onion, diced
1 handful of fresh herbs (I went with parsley and thyme)
1-2 Tbsp of good quality olive oil
Generous dashes of salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Slice the kohlrabi, onion, and herbs.  Mix in a large bowl with olive oil and salt/pepper until evenly coated.

Note: If you want to take it up a notch, some crumbled feta and bacon would be delicious mixed in as well.

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Easy Coq Au Vin

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This past Tuesday, February 18th, was National Drink Wine day.  I didn’t even know it at the time and made Coq Au Vin  for dinner while drinking half a bottle of wine, call it intuition.  This was my first time attempting to make the classic French dish, which immediately makes one think of Julia Child.  I know better than to claim my cooking skills are anywhere close to those of Julia Child, but they get me rave reviews in this house.  Coq Au Vin is a braised chicken dish made traditionally with Burgundy wine and bone-in chicken.  To make an easier weeknight version I used boneless and skinless chicken breasts and cut a few corners along the way.  For base instructions and ingredients I followed a recipe posted by the barefoot contessa, Ina Garten.  As with most braised dishes, the final product did not disappoint.  We ate this solo like a stew, but it would be amazing served over mashed potatoes.

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Ingredients: 

5 slices of thick cut applewood smoked bacon, diced (regular bacon or pancetta if you don’t want a smoky flavor)
4 large boneless/skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1/2 pound of carrots cut into thick diagonal pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of brandy
1/2 bottle of Burgundy red wine (something you want to drink the other half of)
1 cup of chicken stock
10 sprigs of fresh thyme, center stem removed
2 Tbsp of butter
2 Tbsp of flour
1/2 pound of fresh mushrooms, sliced or button mushrooms.

Directions: 

1. In a large dutch oven brown the diced bacon over medium heat.  While this is cooking slice the chicken breasts into 4-5 large strips and season generously with salt and pepper to prepare for cooking.  When the bacon is fully cooked remove from pan with a slotted spoon to reserve the rendered fat in the pan.

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2. Add a small amount of olive oil to the bacon grease if you need more to fully cover the bottom of the pan.  Brown the slices of chicken for a few minutes on each side, do not fully cook.  Brown in batch if necessary to not crowd and set on a plate for later.

3.  Add the onions, carrots, 2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper to the oil in the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until onions are lightly browned and soft.  Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute to release a nice garlic aroma without burning.

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4. Pour in the brandy, bacon, chicken ( with the juices on the plate), stir in gently and allow to cook for a few minutes before adding the wine, chicken stock, and thyme.  Bring to a simmer.

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5.  Once simmering cover with a lid and place in the oven at 250 degrees F for 35-40 minutes.

6.  While the chicken is in the oven slice your mushrooms and place in a heavy skillet with 2 tbsp of butter and 1-2 cloves of minced garlic.  Heat over medium heat until mushrooms are lightly browned and softened stirring frequently.  There should be a bit of liquid with the mushrooms, if there isn’t add more butter.  Add 2 tbsp of flour slowly to the mushrooms and butter to thicken.

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7. When chicken is ready to remove from the oven (make sure it’s not pink in the center of the largest piece) return to stove top on medium/low heat and stir in the thickened mushrooms.  Simmer for 10 minutes before serving.  If you want an even thicker sauce add a little more flour to the stew (a little goes a long way).

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Cheers!

White Wine Braised Lamb Chops

 

2014-01-12 19.38.22Winter weather cooking is all about comfort foods that are full of flavor and warmth.  Lately I have been playing around with braising cheap cuts of meat.  The flavors are incredible, the meat is insanely tender, and braising is really very easy to do.  Technically braising is just searing then slow cooking a cut of meat that has a tough quality or connective tissue that needs broken down.  Adding wine, beer, or tomatoes with broth then covering to finish cooking for a long period of time completes the braising process.  Of course time is a factor and planning in advance will only help enhance the flavors, try this for a fancy weekend meal.  For tonights braising I got the lamb chops at Paulina Meat Market and decided to go with a white wine and beef broth cooking liquid, fresh herbs, and vegetables to enhance the lamb.

I chose lamb shoulder chops that are blade cut, the least expensive cut of lamb in stock at the market.  I decided to keep the flavors soft using leeks instead of onions with the white wine.  Starting on Saturday I rubbed the lamb down giving it a day to soak in, I definitely recommend this with this recipe.  Thyme goes so nicely with dry white wine and I happen to have a lot growing right now, so I used that primarily with a little fresh rosemary and parsley to round out the flavors.  You can use other herbs that you have fresh or dried (use a little less if using dried herbs as they are more potent) sage or oregano would be lovely as well.

Ingredients: 

Rub:
2 tsp of garlic powder
2 tsp of pepper
2 tsp of salt
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced and heaping
2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp fresh parsley, minced

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2 8oz cuts of lamb with bone in and marbled with fat/connective tissue
4 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 Leek, halved and sliced
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp of ground pepper
4 sprigs of thyme, center stem removed
2 bay leaves
1 cup of white wine
1 cup of beef broth

Directions:

1. At least one hour in advance (up to 12 hours in advance) mix together rub ingredients and pat onto lamb chops, refrigerate until 30 minutes before browning.
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2. Choose a large heavy pan with an oven-safe lid to make the meal in.  Heat on medium-high, coat with olive oil and brown lamb chops 5 minutes on each side.  Remove from pan and set aside.

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3. Lower heat to medium-low, add a pad of butter to pan and saute carrots, celery, fennel, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves.  Saute for 8-10 minutes before adding white wine, beef broth, and chops to pan.  The liquid should come about 2/3 of the way up the side of the meat, I added a little more wine and broth after taking this picture below.  Bring to a boil.

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4. Once boiling, cover pan and place in oven at 285 degrees for 3 hours.

2014-01-12 19.27.46In the end the meat is literally falling off the bone and that tough connective tissue has melted into a soft smooth consistency.  The smell is incredible and the taste is so flavorful, words cannot do justice.

To serve this I boiled some cauliflower until very tender, mixed it in the kitchenaid standing mixer with butter, roasted garlic, salt, pepper, and a little milk.  It made a rice-like consistency that was a perfect bed for the lamb and vegetables.  You can also use rice or mashed potatoes, but I wanted to make this paleo friendly.  Fresh green beans for a side and you have yourself a restaurant quality meal at home.

Enjoy and Stay Healthy!

Snacking Nuts

The holiday season is full of gatherings with friends.  I made this snack mix to put out while having a drink before going out to dinner.  I didn’t want everyone to fill up, but there is something nice about having a small snack with your beverage.  This is easy and will last in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks, so you can cover Christmas and New Years with one baking.  This would also make for a nice host/hostess gift with a bottle of wine or box of chocolates.

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I found this recipe on the Food and Wine website, perfect amount of sweet and savory without overbearing the natural nut flavors.

Ingredients:

2 cups almonds
2 cups pecans
2 cups walnuts
1/4 cup of pure maple syrup (heaping)
2 Tbsp of fresh chopped rosemary and thyme
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (heaping)
salt and fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Toss to combine all ingredients except the salt and pepper in a large bowl.

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3. Spread out mixture on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
4. When you remove them from the oven sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and stir 1-2 more times while cooling.

2013-12-21 14.57.57Enjoy!

Butternut Ham Soup

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After making a ham last weekend I had another ham bone to utilize in a dish.  Instead of making split pea soup or red beans and rice, I wanted to make a fall soup without beans involved.  It took a lot of research to find a recipe that did not involve beans in some way, and when I finally found a reasonable recipe (vegetable ham soup on Cooks.com) I make a few changes including incorporating a butternut squash I had sitting around.  I also made this soup in the crock pot instead of on the stovetop to get as much benefit of the ham bone as possible.

Ingredients:

-1-2 Tbsp of olive oil or butter
-1 large onion, chopped
-6 carrots, peeled and diced
-4 stalks of celery, chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-10 cups of chicken stock
-4-5 sprigs of thyme
-1 Tbsp chopped parsley
-1 bay leaf
-1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
-3 cups chopped ham
-1 meaty ham bone
-ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat oil or butter in heavy pot over medium heat.  Cook onion, garlic, carrots, and celery for 10-15 minutes.

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2. Add squash, ham, and black pepper to vegetables.  Stir to warm.  Add chicken broth, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and ham bone.

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3. When warm, put in crock pot on low for 4-6 hours.

4. Remove thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and ham bone before serving.

Enjoy!

Linguica and Ricotta Frittata

Linguica is something I didn’t know anything about until meeting my husband.  Coming from a small town south of Boston, he grew up on this Portuguese meat.  Whenever we are back East, no visit is complete until he has a linguica and cheese omelette at least once.  When I was at the Paulina Meat Market the other day I noticed some homemade linguica sausage in the window, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.  The day I got the sausage we had half of a link thinly sliced with cheddar cheese and bread as a pre-dinner snack.  The next morning I decided to make a breakfast frittata, as I know that I will never be able to make an omelette that compares with what the diners in New Bedford make.

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Ingredients:

– 8 eggs, beaten

– 1/4 onion, diced

– 1/2 jalapeno, diced

– 1/2 cup linguica sausage, diced

– 1 medium tomato, diced

– 1/8 cup of red wine

– 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, center stem removed.  More for garnish.

– Red pepper flakes

– Salt and pepper

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Ricotta ingredients:

-1/2 cup of ricotta cheese

– 1 pad of butter

– 1/2 tsp minced garlic

– 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin

Directions:

1. Make ricotta cheese: Sauté over medium heat in heavy skillet mushrooms and garlic in butter for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir into ricotta cheese.

2. In large oven safe heavy skillet, sauté onions and jalapeno with thyme, a dash of red pepper flakes, and salt/pepper to taste for 5 minutes.  Add red wine and cook.

3. Add linguica and sauté an additional 5 minutes before adding tomatoes.

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4. Turn heat off to skillet and spread linguica and onion mixture evenly on bottom, pour eggs into skillet.

5. Dollop ricotta cheese mixture onto eggs throughout.

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6. Cook in oven at 350 for 20 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.

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Tomato Cooked Chicken with Shiitake Ricotta Topping

For dinner tonight I wanted to make something that had a lot of flavor as well as used up some random vegetables and ingredients I had in the fridge.  The dish turned out even better than I thought it would, so much flavor and depth.  My husband was pretty reluctant to let me put kalamata olives in it, but it really brought the dish to a new level.  If you are really opposed to the olives, you can add some capers to enhance the flavor or skip altogether.  To serve I roasted some vegetables on the side, but it would go great over a bed of rice or roasted spaghetti squash.

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Ingredients:

– 4 chicken breasts

– 1/2 cup white wine

-2 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced

– 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced

– 1/2 onion, diced

– 1 hungarian or green pepper, diced

– 2 roma tomatoes

– 1 8oz can of diced tomatoes, with juice

– 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, center stem removed

– 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

– 8-10 kalamata olives, sliced

– 1 cup ricotta cheese

– 10-12 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

-salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Brown the chicken breasts in a hot skillet coated with olive oil about 4 minutes on each side, remove and set aside.

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2. Add garlic, ginger, and thyme to pan and saute a few minutes, add white wine and de-glaze the skillet.  Simmer for a few minutes to cook off the wine.

3. Add onions and peppers to skillet with a 1/2 tbsp of butter and saute with red pepper flakes.

2013-09-26 19.47.464. Add diced tomatoes and can of diced tomatoes with olives, stir and simmer until heated through.

5. Place chicken back in skillet and reduce heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes flipping once.

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6. While the chicken is simmering make the ricotta topping.  Heat small cast iron skillet and saute 1 tsp minced garlic and shiitake mushrooms with a pad of butter.  Simmer for 5 minutes before removing from heat.

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7. Mix mushroom mixture with ricotta cheese and dollop on top of chicken.

8. To finish dish, put skillet in the oven on broil to heat the ricotta for a few minutes, garnish with fresh thyme.

2013-09-26 20.31.03The mushroom and ricotta cheese topping was a complete after-thought.  I wanted to put the mushrooms in the red sauce, but forgot about them.  Turns out mushrooms, garlic, butter, and cheese is delicious,  I will definitely use this again in other dishes.

Enjoy!