Tuesday, December 11, 2012

White Bean, Tomato and Roasted Spinach Panzanella Salad

R's been working really late so I've been scrounging up meals for myself, trying to use every last grocery I purchase.  Last night I had a bit of bread, bag of spinach, half a tomato and a can of beans and decided to make a panzanella (bread) salad. 

The inspiration that drove this dinner was the roasted spinach.  In the past year I've had the pleasure of meeting Jim Lahey, master bread-maker, all around badass and owner of Sullivan Street Bakery and Co. restaurant in New York City.


Jim serves this absolutely delicious spinach pizza at his restaurant where the spinach is all roasted and crispy, and tastes to me a bit like roasted pumpkin seeds. It is so simple but such a great way to use the ingredient.  I wanted to find a way to incorporate roasted spinach so I used it as a topping on the panzanella salad.   This dish turned out to be really delicious, although I included prosciutto which I wouldn't use next time as it didn't match texturally and wasn't needed for the salt factor. 


 Serves 2
  • 1 2" Piece of Thick Cut Bacon, cut into strips
  • 2 tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic, chopped
  • Sprinkle of Red Pepper Flakes 
  • Rosemary, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Can Cannellini or White Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 Large Tomatoes, cut into large pieces
  • White Wine or Chicken Stock   
  • 1 tsp Tapenade (optional, for saltiness)
  • 1 tsp Tomato Paste (optional)
  • 2 Slices Good Bakery Bread, cubed and tossed on olive oil (I used rosemary infused that I made the other day) 
  • Large Handful of Spinach, tossed in olive oil
  • Basil for Garnish (optional)

Start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees

Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a non stick pan over medium heat.  Drop in your bacon and cook until browned.  Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and rosemary.  Cook for 5-10 minutes until onions are translucent but not brown. Add in your tomatoes, white beans, tapenade and tomato paste and cover with white wine (or chicken stock). Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft, the beans have absorbed the flavor and the sauce has thickened. 

Lay your spinach on a baking sheet in a single layer and place in oven. Do the same with the bread. Cook until the spinach has crisped up (15-20 minutes) and the bread is browned. 

Layer the white bean/tomato mix, followed by the bread then spinach and top with the basil for a fresh crunch. 

This was so so so delicious. All of the flavors and textures came together really well and created a filling and guilt-free dinner. I'm looking forward to incorporating roasted spinach into more dishes!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ragu Bolognese

Growing up our mom cooked a very simple and tasty meat sauce consisting of onions, garlic, ground beef and canned tomatoes so it's always been my go to.  Now that I'm all grown up (ish), I've been wanting to make a true bolognese but was too intimidated. After doing some thorough internet searching I settled on Mario Batali's ragu bolognese because the reviews were too hard to resist! 

"This recipe has become a popular family request at birthday dinners and family functions! The flavors are bold yet elegant, and the simplicity of the recipe lends itself well to compliments to the chef that are far beyond the effort exerted" 
By rhowellphotography_12272893, Tallahassee, 48 

"Made this last night. Left it simmering on the stove while I went out and, when I came back, my very stoned sister had eaten 1/4 of it and billed it "the most awesomest sloppy joe mix ever".
By GuvnorDave, New York, NY

None of my pictures turned out so please enjoy this very similar picture from Food Fanatic

Courtesy of Mario Batali

Total Time: 1 hr 45 min 
Prep: 15 min 
Cook: 1 hr 30 min 
Yield: 4 servings


  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 carrot, finely, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 rib celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 pound veal, ground
  • 1 pound pork, ground
  • 1/4 pound slab bacon, ground (I finely chopped then blended in my Cuisinart)
  • 3/4 tube tomato paste (Note that I modified this from 1/2 tube as I liked a bit more tomato flavor)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating


In a 6 to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the veal, pork, and bacon and stir into the vegetables. Add the meat over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned. Add the tomato paste, milk, and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from the heat. 

When ready to use, the cooked pasta should be added to a saucepan with the appropriate amount of hot ragu Bolognese, and tosses so that the pasta is evenly coated by the ragu

This was delicious! While cooking it I kept sneaking bites and wasn't as impressed as I wanted to be, BUT after 90 minutes of cooking and the final seasoning of S&P (and a pad of butter) it all came together so well.  The best part about this dish is that it's so easy I can cook it for the rest of my life without a recipe, I'm sure that will make R a very happy husband. 


Friday, December 7, 2012

Back in Business with Beef Bourguignon

For any of our regular followers it's been quite some time since we've had a current post. With Caitlin recently welcoming twins she is going to be busy busy, but I am trying to get back into the swing of things. 

Despite the lack in posting, I've been cooking quite a bit, trying to get my skills back up to speed. 

As the weather gets colder, I find myself cooking more one-pot meals (the stick to your ribs kind).  Most recently I cooked Ina Garten's Beef Bourguignon for a Christmas tree decorating party we hosted, it was a big hit! The great thing about this recipe (beside flaming the cognac) is that it is SO low maintenance but comes across as something you spent all day on. A no-fail meal for big groups.

Quick Tip: If you are working in a small kitchen and are worried about the flame scorching your walls, cabinets etc, you can bring the pot into another room and flame it, it will still catch fire even if removed from the burner.

courtesy of Ina Garten


  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup Cognac
  • 1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
  • 1 can (2 cups) beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound frozen whole onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced

For serving:

  • Country bread or Sour Dough, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. 

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside. 

Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork. 

Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chipotle Turkey Burgers

With the warmer weather comes the challenge of preparing a meal that is satisfying yet doesn't require a lot of time in front of the stove. I saw a recipe earlier in the week on epicurious.com for a Chipotle Cheddar Pork Burger, which sounded delicious but I was in the mood for something a little lighter and healthier. My friend Jackie's family makes a turkey burger with a chipotle sour cream sauce, and though I didn't remember their exact recipe this is an approximation of that burger. I picked up a pound and a half of ground (light meat) turkey at Whole Foods, along with a bag of brioche buns, a hothouse tomato, an avocado, a bunch of cilantro and some white cheddar. I read that it is not good to handle ground turkey too much, so with that in mind I set to make my burgers. I gently mixed the meat with 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp cumin, 1 chopped shallot, 1 clove chopped garlic, 2 tbsp minced cilantro, 1 tbsp sauce from can of chipotle in adobo, 1 1/2 minced adobo peppers, about 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs and S&P. I then formed the meat into four patties. While my skillet was heating on the stove I prepared the chipotle sour cream sauce: juice of 1/2 lime, 3-4 tbsp sour cream, 1 tbsp adobo sauce and 1 minced adobo. The sauce was very runny at first, but after a brief chill in the fridge it firmed up. I pan fried my burgers in a bit of grapeseed oil, melted some of the white cheddar on top, and served with the toasted brioche buns, thinly sliced red onion, sliced tomato, sliced avocado (w/lime juice), and a few sprigs of fresh cilantro. This burger was tasty, filling, and only required about ten minutes in front of the stove. For a lighter version, omit the cheese and sour cream and serve with fresh salsa or a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches with Spicy Red Coleslaw

Last night I was in the mood for something totally different, so I decided to make barbecue chicken sandwiches with creamed kale and corn. Despite the various elements to this dish, it was quite easy to make, especially if you take help from the store!
Barbecue Chicken
  • 1/2 Roasted Chicken, fork shredded, skin chopped and incorporated
  • BBQ sauce of choice
  • Hamburger Buns, toasted (next time I would use sturdier buns)
Red Cabbage Slaw
  • Red Cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Scallions, sliced
  • Carrots, shredded (in food processor)
  • Shallots, thinly sliced
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Mayonnaise
  • Whole Grain Mustard (heaping tablespoon)
  • Small dash cumin
  • Small dash paprika
  • Small dash cayenne pepper
  • S&P
  • Chili Oil
Creamed Kale (adapted from http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Creamed-Kale)
  • Kale, center stalks removed
  • Shallots, chopped (regular yellow onion would be fine)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup cream (apx)
  • 1 tbs butter
  • Dash of Sugar
  • White Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne
  • Salt
I started by shredding the chicken, adding the barbecue sauce and setting aside. Next I combined the ingredients for my slaw, playing with the ingredients until it was a nice spicy mustardy flavor. I refrigerated this for about 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to combine. Next I worked on the kale. I added the kale and chicken stock to a large skillet and simmered over medium heat until most of the liquid had reduced. I added in the shallots and butter, continuing to cook for 2 minutes. Then I added the cream, sugar, white pepper, cayenne and salt, and cooked for 8-10 minutes more, until the kale was tender. Once this had cooked, I turned off the heat and set aside. When we were ready to eat I reheated the bbq chicken and kale while my corn boiled (4 minutes or so), then assembled dinner This was a really easy and yum meal! It was nice to have comfort food that wasn't a standard pasta dish. I would absolutely recommend this for entertaining because everything can be made in advance.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spring Lamb Curry

We've had a package of Lamb stew meat from Paulina Meat Market sitting in our freezer for a few weeks, and I decided it was high time to cook it up! During my visit to the Farmers Market last weekend I also picked up some red skin potatoes and a bag of cremini mushrooms. Instead of making a traditional "meat & potatoes" stew with the lamb and vegetables, I wanted to make a spring curry. I did some recipe googling, and found a recipe that I thought I could adapt for my ingredients.
I started by browning my lamb stew meat (seasoned with S&P) in a little bit of olive oil in a hot hot stew pot. When the meat was brown and caramelized I removed it from the pot and turned down the heat. I then added a bit more olive oil and 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 bunch spring onions- white part only. When these were soft I stirred in 1 cup of Greek yogurt mixed with coriander, turmeric, and cumin. The recipe I found online called for "frying" the yogurt, which I did hesitantly, stirring constantly, over not too high heat. I then added my cubed potatoes, 1/2 a sliced brown onion, 1 1/2 tbsp minced fresh ginger, and about two cups of my cremini mushrooms. Then it was time to add the browned lamb back to the pot along with the liquid component: 1 small container chicken stock, and a cup or so of water.
This is when things got a little dicey. The "fried" yogurt curdled in the broth, and there were little mealy bits of yogurt floating around my soup pot. I didn't want to freak out quiet yet- there was still 40 minutes of cooking time for this dish.
I brought the mixture to a low boil and then reduced the heat to a simmer, and left uncovered on the stove for 40 minutes, stirring from time to time.
As the stew cooked the broth reduced and the potatoes became creamy. The final consistency was like a soupy mash, with hunks of browned lamb meat and chunks of mushroom and still intact potato. I tossed in a handful of frozen peas for a hit of bright green color, and then added my secret ingredient:
Served on a bed of white rice with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a wedge of lime, this curry was spicy, hearty, fresh tasting, and delicious!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summer Vegetable Angel Hair with a Dill Cucumber Dressing

Last week I made a pan seared salmon in a dill cucumber sauce (yum yum!) and I had a bit of the sauce leftover in my fridge. I decided to saute some asparagus & toss with frozen peas, cucumber sauce and a few ladles of pasta water. I tossed the mix with angel hair pasta and topped with feta.... voilĂ ! dinner served!
This was fresh and delicious- it made great leftovers and felt very guilt free.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pan Seared Salmon with Grilled Asparagus & Endive in a Dill Cucumber Sauce

On Sunday R and I went to Uva, an Italian wine bar whose atmosphere resembles many of our favorite east village spots- lots of wood, low lights and a back patio for warm weather dining. While the portions are a little small for the price you pay, you can have dinner for 2 for about $100. I ordered seared salmon with asparagus and endive, which was really yummy but a bit dry so I thought I'd take a stab at making it myself.
Pan Seared Salmon with Grilled Asparagus & Endive in a Dill Cucumber Sauce
  • 1 Salmon Fillet, skin removed
  • Asparagus
  • Endive
  • Cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • Dill
  • Mayonnaise
  • Lemon Juice
  • Dijon Mustard
  • White Pepper
First I warmed up my broiler to cook the asparagus and endive. While the broiler warmed I mixed the cucumber dill sauce. I combined the cucumber, dill, mayo and mustard and blended until smooth. Then I added a squeeze of lemon juice and some S&P and blended again. Cucumber sauce...done! Next I tossed the asparagus with a bit of olive oil and S&P and popped under the broiler for about 5-6 minutes- until browned but still crisp. While the asparagus cooked I heated up a saute pan with olive oil and butter. When the butter began to brown I placed the S&P seasoned salmon skin side down in the pan and cooked for 2 minutes, then flipped and cooked for another 2 minutes. This will give you a rare temperature. I removed the salmon from the pan and let rest. When the asparagus was done, I popped the endive (no dressing) under the broiler and cooked until just browned at the edges. I then tossed quickly in the salmon pan to soak up the yummy juices.
To plate, I sliced the asparagus in half and layered them alternating face down-face up to create a nice pattern on the plate. I then layered the endive, a strip of the cucumber sauce, placed the salmon on top and drizzled with pan juices.
This was seriously delicious and guilt free! I couldn't believe how quickly and easily this dinner came together. Cucumber dill is a must, it brought all the summery flavors together. I would recommend this for entertaining because you can cook everything in just about 10 minutes, and the cucumber dill can be made about 2 hours in advance.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kale & Corn Stew

In the spirit of making my favorite dishes healthier, I made this kale & corn stew - a play on paella without the starch.
  • 1 Chicken Breast, cubed
  • 1 Chorizo, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • Kale, rough chopped
  • Fresh Corn, removed from the cob
  • Red Pepper, chopped
  • Fish Sauce
  • Green Tabasco
  • Lime
  • Cilantro
I started by browning my chicken and chorizo in a saute pan. Place the chorizo cut-side down and place a can or something heavy on it to keep it flat. Brown the meats and then remove and keep warm. To that pan add the garlic and kale and cook for 12 - 15 minutes (covered) or until the kale is soft. You may want to add a bit of water to the pan to help the process along. When the kale is soft, add the corn, red pepper, chorizo (cut into pieces) and chicken into the pan. Toss then add enough water to come about halfway up the ingredients. Add a dash of fish sauce and allow to simmer for a few minutes until the flavors have incorporated. Serve with a fresh squeeze of lime, green Tabasco and cilantro.
I didn't even miss the rice in this sudo-paella dish. The broth was really delicious and soaked in all the yummy vegetables flavors. Everything else was fresh and light without making me feel like I was missing out!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Grapefruit & Fennel Salad

If you are trying to eat healthy grapefruit is your best friend. Whether eaten plain, with yogurt or tossed in a salad it is something you should definitely keep in your fridge! This salad was a simple mix of romaine, thinly sliced fennel, grapefruit, red onion, radishes, fresh parsley & dill and parmesan shavings was a really refreshing and healthy lunch that doesn't ruin any hard work you've done at the gym!