Saturday, January 18, 2014

Beans and Escarole

Beans and escarole is a classic Italian dish that is all things hearty, healthy, and absolutely delicious.  The first time I ever had beans and escarole, I was at my favorite Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh, Girasole.  Now last night was my first attempt at ever making beans and escarole and I have it say, I nailed it.

This can be an awesome appetizer, or main course.  It most definitely qualifies as comfort food which is  exactly what I was craving on a cold snowy Friday night in.  Bu the main inspiration behind attempting this dish is because my husband and I ARE GOING TO ITALY IN MARCH!!!  For 10 days! I can hardly contain my excitement and I plan to eat absolutely everything.  I’m talking gelato between every meal, wine whenever we please, and pasta, pasta, pasta.  But enough bragging, here are the details for beans and escarole:
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 inch slice of pancetta, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (the stuff in the tube is so great)
  • 1 can of cannelloni beans 
  • small head of escarole, washed and chopped
  • 1 can of vegetable broth
  • parmesan cheese (the real stuff!!)
  • wee bit of olive oil
  • delicious bread

This is a one pot meal which is good news for the dish washer in your house.  Start with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add pancetta and cook until it has rendered some.  Next, add the carrot, onion, and celery and cook until translucent.  Add some salt and pepper.  Add the garlic and cook until it doesn't appear to look raw anymore.  Next mix in the tomato paste for about 2 minutes.  Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 3-4 minutes.  I added some red  pepper flakes at this point for some spice, but this is totally optional.  I get it, some people are wimps and don't like spice.  Now add the beans and escarole and stir around until warmed and wilted.  


I served mine on a shallow plate with garlic Naan bread to soak up the flavorful liquid.  The Naan bread is obviously not Italian, but it is pretty freaking good, so deal with it.  Finally - and this next step is very important - use a vegetable peeler to top with big chards of Parmesan cheese. Buon Appetito!  




Friday, January 3, 2014

Vegetable Soup

It is January 3, 2014, and I bet you can feel a soft layer of of sugar cookies, meatballs, ham, and all things cream cheese around your waist line from all of the holiday eating.  On New Year's Day you were probably all like, "I'm only eating salads this month".  Are you sick of them yet?  I love salads, but I am one of those people who cannot eat the same thing over and over again.  I can usually eat left overs once, and then I'm done.  Well, fret no more, fatty.  This vegetable soup recipe is amazingly tasty and great diversion from your salad.  It is also hearty and warm which is fitting for the current Northeastern climate.  We're talking single digit temps here in Pittsburgh with the wind chill in negative numbers.  "Colder than a witch's titty" as they say.
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 carton vegetable stock
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 cans of white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small head of cabbage, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and  pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional, if you want to  make it spicy)
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and saute the carrots, celery, onion and garlic about 5-10 minutes.  Next, add everything else and simmer for 30 minutes.

That. Is. It! So simple and so freakin' good.  Serve with some garlic bread and I promise you will be full. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Citrus Salad with Tarragon

This citrus salad recipe is from Bon Appetit.  I made it for brunch for my in-laws on Christmas day and it was amazing.  I thought so anyway.  It is really awesome for brunch, but you could serve this any time of day.  It includes a tarragon syrup - a mild anise flavor - which compliments the tartness of the citrus just beautifully.
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon, packed
Put all 3 ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake until sugar is dissolved. You can do this up to a day in advance, it only get better with time.
  • peeled and sliced citrus of your choice
I used grapefruit, tangerine, orange, and clementine.  A blood orange would look really pretty in this salad, but I couldn't find one.  Prior to serving, strain and drizzle the syrup over the plate of citrus rounds and garnish with tarragon leaves. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday Appetizers

I have a healthy amount of food prep to do this holiday season - just enough so that I can be creative and enjoy it.

The Husband and I will be spending Christmas Eve at my brother's house with his lovely wife, Molly (a name of great women), his 3 darling little girls, Addy, Phoebe, and Baby Maggie, and my parents.  I have been tasked with providing appetizers and here is what I will be preparing…

Mustard and Gruyere Batons

This recipe is from my girlfriend, Ina Garten, and they are insanely delicious.  I've made them for many parties and gatherings and they are always a huge hit.  The recipe calls for gruyere cheese which can be pricey.  I once substituted a smoked gouda which was good, and I think an extra sharp cheddar would work too.

  •  1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 1.5 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1.5 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 egg beaten with a 1 teaspoon water
  • 4 ounces grated gruyere
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • flour for dusting
  • sea salt for sprinkling
Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface into the shape of a rectangle.  Mix the mustards together and spread evenly on half of the pastry dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Sprinkle 2 ounses of gruyere on top of the mustard.  Brush the egg mixture on the border, and then fold the remaining dough over and press to seal.  Chill for 15-30minutes. 

Preheat oven too 400 degrees.  Remove dough from refrigerator and slice into 12 batons.  Brush with more egg wash, and sprinkle remaining gruyere, parmesan, and salt on top.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.


Grapes with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

You won't need the oven for this one!  This is a new recipe for me, and it was given to me by my friend and co-worker, Doris.  She is well aware of my love affair with goat cheese and knew I would just love these.

  • medium sized green grapes
  • 3 oz. goat cheese at room temperature
  • 1 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
  • crushed pistachios
Mix the cheeses together.  Put a pat of the cheese mixture in your hand to  warm it up a bit, and then form it onto the grape.  Roll the grape in crushed pistachios and plop in a tooth pick.  Boom, you're done.

Ricotta Stuffed Dates wrapped in Bacon

I kind of hate making these, but they are just so damn good.  

  • Pitted dates.  You will probably have to pit them yourself.  Drink wine while doing it, and it won't be so bad.
  • firm ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 slices of bacon
Pit the damn dates, and stuff with cheese.  Wrap in bacon.  Bake at 350 (low and slow, my friend), until bacon is done to your liking.  They will disappear in no time.



That's all! Happy Christmas and Happy Cooking, friends!!!



Pittsburgh Strikes Again

Word.

http://www.bonappetit.com/columns/the-foodist/slideshow/foodist-trendy-ingredient-predictions-2014/?slide=4

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Korean Beef

Thanksgiving is over, the leftovers are almost gone, and like many people you are probably sick to death of turkey.  So now for something completely different: Korean beef.

This recipe is derived from something I read in Cooking Light

  • NY strip steak sliced against the grain (raw, if that isn't obvious)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 4 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (one for the marinade, one for the pan)
  • 1/2 cup oil

Mix everything together except the water and one tablespoon of oil and throw in the steak and marinate for an hour or two. 

Next, heat up 1 tablespoon oil and sauté the beef until good and browned.  Reserve the extra marinade. Remove beef and set aside covered with foil. 

Cook some rice for a side dish. I like Trader Joe's Jasmine rice, but use whatever you'd like. 

Add the remaining marinade to the pan with 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. 

Finally, plate your rice, beef, and sauce. In the picture below, I added a layer of steamed kale as well. I like to have something green with every meal. 


This recipe was. the. shit. It will definitely be a repeat in my house!